A federal judge in Maryland said Thursday that Christopher Hasson, a Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a domestic terror attack, will be released from detention.
Prosecutors say Hasson, who had been indicted on weapons and drug charges, is a white supremacist who had a hit list that included prominent Democratic politicians as well as several journalists from CNN and MSNBC.
Judge Charles Day agreed with Hasson’s public defender that the government had not met a standard for continued detention but said he still had “grave concerns” about Hasson’s alleged actions, which included amassing an arsenal of guns and tactical gear and searching online for the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices and the “best” gun to kill African-Americans.
According to court documents, Hasson conducted an internet search for “are Supreme Court justices protected” before searching for the home addresses of two unnamed justices. Prosecutors say that in August 2017 Hasson searched “white homeland” and “when are whites going to wake up.” Months later he allegedly searched “please god let there be a race war.”
BREAKING: Federal judge agrees to release Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, who was accused of plotting terror attack by federal prosecutors. Judge says govt. has not charged him with terrorism and murder and doesn’t plan to, so no grounds to hold.
— justin jouvenal (@jjouvenal) April 25, 2019
#BREAKING — This is Huge
• Lt. Chris Hasson WILL be released from jail, through trial.
• He threatened to kill 2 SCOTUS justices, CNN & MSNBC anchors
• Defense argued he should be free bc he wasn’t being held on ANY terror related charges
• Judge AGREED. Release soon.@WUSA9 pic.twitter.com/z3sUOxUgmX
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) April 25, 2019
Hasson’s public defender Elizabeth Oyer told the court, “I fear that through the vivid imaginations and colorful writing of the prosecutors, the case has developed a profile that does not line up with the facts.” Oyer referenced President Donald Trump multiple times, comparing her client’s racial slurs and targeting of Democrats and the media to similar views that the President has taken.
Oyer said the list of names Hasson had allegedly assembled didn’t amount to a hit list but “looks like the sort of list that our commander in chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning.”
She added that while the racial slurs Hasson allegedly used in private writings were condemnable, they are now part of the “national vocabulary. Donald Trump uses similar epithets in his everyday language and tweets,” Oyer said.
Hasson if you remember, was caught with an absolute arsenal of weapons and intended to target and murder politicians and media figures. One can only imagine what his fate would've been if he even just downloaded an ISIS meme. https://t.co/eCgELTAKeR
— Ben Makuch (@BMakuch) April 25, 2019
This man is being released from prison after court documents were filed this week alleging Hasson, accused of plotting a mass killing, searched for Supreme Court justices' addresses and looked for "the best gun to kill African Americans." https://t.co/8LlFr6SI2N https://t.co/bj8EzRwa4i
— Rachel Glickhouse (@Riogringa) April 25, 2019