A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of being a domestic terrorist can be released before his trial on gun and drug charges, a federal judge said Thursday.
A federal magistrate did not order Christopher Hasson be immediately released from custody, but gave the defense attorney a few days to propose conditions such as home confinement.
Authorities arrested Hasson in February after he allegedly created a hit list of prominent Democrats and network TV journalists and stockpiled weapons.
The self-described white nationalist has not been charged with any terrorism-related offenses, said U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day, although Hasson previously drafted an email saying he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” according to court filings.
Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office, said prosecutors would oppose any conditions of release for Hasson.
Day said he still has “grave concerns” about Hasson, who prosecutors said used his government computer to research the Virginia Tech gunman and the Unabomber.
Hasson will be supervised before his release, Day said.
Defense attorney Liz Oyer said Hasson has not made direct or specific threats to harm anyone. She said prosecutors are seeking to punish him for “private thoughts.”
“They have not come forward with evidence that Mr. Hasson is a domestic terrorist because he is not,” she told Day.
In court filings, prosecutors said Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said prosecutors had presented “clear and convincing evidence” that Hasson threatens public safety.
“The dots were connected directly by the defendant with his own writings,” Windom said.
Day said he may order home confinement with electronic monitoring for Hasson and restrict his access to firearms and computers.
An opioid painkiller called Tramadol, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 15 guns were found at Hasson’s basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. Oyer said Hasson has had a lifelong interest in firearms and likes to hunt and target practice.
Hasson pleaded not guilty last month to charges of illegal possession of firearm silencers, possession of firearms by a drug addict and unlawful user, and possession of a controlled substance. He faces a maximum of 31 years in prison if convicted of all four counts in his indictment.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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