Death threats have forced 'moon man' Ken Ring into hiding.
The astrological weather forecaster spoke this week from a secret location, saying he feared for his life after a media frenzy erupted due to his prediction that a major earthquake was going to strike Christchurch on March 20.
The fear of prosecution for inciting a riot has also silenced him on earthquake predictions.
ACC Minister Nick Smith, a geotechnical engineer, staged a 'non-event' lunch in Christchurch on March 20 in response to Ring's prediction, dining with members of the Skeptics Society and other supporters of evidence-based science.
Some people had fled the city after becoming aware of the warning from Ring.
But Sir Peter Gluckman, scientific adviser to Prime Minister John Key, had rejected the quake claims in a public call for calm.
"They said it was like calling out fire in a crowded theatre and that's against the law - it's called the Riot Act, and inciting riot," Ring said.
"My defence would be that the theatre is already on fire. All I'm doing is warning people of when and where the hottest spots will be.
"I've been virtually told by Dr Nick Smith and Sir Peter Gluckman that I'm not qualified to put statements out about earthquakes. They will have me legally if I do that.
"Until they reverse that, I'm completely bound to silence. I don't want to go to jail."
Ring said his appearance on TV3's Campbell Live in late February had inflamed the furore and sparked multiple threats that "included the word 'kill' and named my address".
He had reported four threats to police - once being told by an officer "it comes with the territory" - and has quit his Auckland home amid fears for himself and his family.
"(John) Campbell relentlessly held me up to be a charlatan, a fraud, and everything he could think of," Ring said.
"It's like I'm being burned at the stake like a witch. I thought those days were over."
Campbell phoned Ring to apologise for his treatment on his show.
He said although he didn't believe his guest could predict earthquakes, he should have given him a fairer hearing.
Ring said he has shunned all interview requests since then and has sought medical help for stress after the death threats and increased media attention.
He cancelled engagements in Christchurch and the controversy had taken a financial toll on his work as a weather forecaster.
"And I've not made a penny from earthquake predictions - it's not my business. I do it to help people," he said.
He will continue making astrological weather forecasts for New Zealand but will for now hold his tongue about earthquakes in the Shaky Isles.
"There are plenty of other places in the world that would welcome earthquake warnings, so I'll concentrate on that," he said.
"For us though, it'll die down. The (earthquake) timeline has always been until the end of April.
"Scientists are now saying it'll be February 2013 before it stops but they're just making it up.
"After this month the moon moves away, the Jupiter Saturn effect moves away that's been causing solar activity, and it'll be the end of the main part of the earthquake sequence. Things will die down then."
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