A U.S. District Court of Maryland judge has overturned a magistrate judge’s decision to grant accused terror plotter, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, his release from jail pre-trial.
Hasson, who it has been noted privately espoused neo-Nazi and white supremacist views, was granted his release at the end of April, causing immediate alarm on social media and elsewhere. This came as no surprise since Hasson is accused of plotting a massive terror attack. It was U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day who controversially ruled that Hasson could be let out, put under house arrest and tracked by GPS. Prosecutors filed an immediate appeal and U.S. District Judge George Hazel agreed on Monday that Hasson poses a danger to the community and overturned Day’s ruling, the Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors have alleged that Hasson desired a “white homeland” and claim that Hasson is a “domestic terrorist bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect government conduct.” Although Hasson has been described as a “domestic terrorist,” prosecutors not charging him with a terrorism offense is why Judge Day ruled they way he did before.
Hasson allegedly plotted to killed high-profile left-wing figures, including politicians like Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), as well as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Hasson was also accused of looking up addresses for Supreme Court justices.
Hasson, however, was only charged with drug and firearms offenses. Authorities found more than a dozen weapons and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in Hasson’s possession. There is no federal statute criminalizing “domestic terrorism,” though it does have a legal definition. Hasson allegedly boasted about being a longtime “skinhead” and he complained about white people needing a new “homeland” because Europe was “lost.” He has pleaded not guilty.
It seems Judge Hazel was moved by U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom‘s argument that Hasson is just like other recent white nationalist mass shooters, except, unlike them, he got caught.
“[T]he manifestos of those who came before the defendant — those who attacked children in Norway, tourists at the Atlanta Olympics, and worshippers in the Pittsburgh synagogue and New Zealand mosques — also were unshared, private thoughts until those plans turned to action,” Windom said.
Hasson’s defense attorney Liz Oyer argued that Hasson was being punished for his “private thoughts.”
Windom acknowledged that Hasson kept his views “quiet,” but said the defendant’s intent was made clear over a long period of time.
“This is a case study in the adage, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ Through years of research and purchases, the defendant made plain his intentions, though he kept them quiet so as not to attract attention,” Windom said.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[Image via U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland]