A street artist whose mock public service ads around the city claimed the NYPD used spy drones to monitor citizens was busted after outing himself in a website interview, authorities and sources said.
Essam Attia, 29, was hit with 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession after allegedly having an unloaded .22-caliber revolver under his bed at his Manhattan apartment when he was arrested early Wednesday.
Authorities said Attia planted dozens of ads in display cases around the city between Sept. 14 and 16. Many of them even used his artist signature, “ESSAM.”
“The meaning of the drone campaign for me its really about creating a conversation,” Attia apparently said in an Animalnewyork.com interview, his face cast in shadows and his voice disguised to protect his identity.
In the interview, the self-described photographer and street artist — who boasts a military background — discussed his fears for a Big Brother-like police spying initiative.
Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, the video and other evidence led investigators in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the NYPD to identify the alleged prankster as a local artist, sources said.
Attia declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday night. He posted bail, which was set at $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash, and is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court on Dec. 3.