A 41-year-old American woman has been arrested in Spain after physicist Professor Stephen Hawking allegedly received death threats.
Professor Hawking gave a talk at the Starmus Festival on the island of Tenerife flanked by armed police guards, according to The Local, and English-language news website, which cited La Opinión de Tenerife newspaper.
It said that the world-renowned scientist had received hundreds of unpleasant messages on Twitter and by email for several years.
However, after he arrived on Tenerife, he received dozens of messages in a few hours, reportedly including one that said “I’m next to you and can kill you”.
One of Professor Hawking’s children raised the alarm after seeing the messages on his social media accounts.
Spanish News Today reported the woman who was arrested was an American who normally lives in Norway.
She was detained in a four-star hotel near the Playa de Las Americas on the island.
In his address at the festival, Professor Hawking warned that increasingly intelligent robots might one day pose a threat to humanity.
“I don’t think that advances in artificial intelligence will necessarily be benign,” he said.
“Once machines reach the critical stage of being able to evolve themselves, we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies