A federal judge has set strict conditions for the pretrial release of a Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a terrorist attack but stopped short of releasing him in order to give prosecutors time to appeal.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day ruled at a hearing in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Tuesday, May 7, that 50-year-old Christopher Hasson may be released from custody and supervised by relatives in Virginia while awaiting trial.
Good afternoon from the US District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, where Judge Charles Day is set to decide whether or not Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Hasson is to be released pending trial on firearms and drug charges. pic.twitter.com/3k26KOzkUk
— Gary Grumbach (@GaryGrumbach) May 7, 2019
The magistrate stopped short of ordering Hasson’s immediate release, however, and indicated he was giving prosecutors time to appeal his decision to a district court judge.
Prosecutors have already filed a motion to review and revoke Hasson’s release.
The government has already filed plans to appeal Christopher Hasson’s pretrial release, which means his detention status will go to a different judge to decide. pic.twitter.com/M3fTaEyNRd
— Lynh Bui (@ByLynhBui) May 7, 2019
Hasson’s attorney said prosecutors have not filed any terrorism-related charges against her client due to a lack of evidence.
So far Hasson has only been charged with gun and drug crimes. NBC reported prosecutors do not intend to file any additional charges.
Day ruled last month that Hasson may be freed ahead of his trial.
If the district court rejects the appeal, Hasson could soon be free.
Conditions of Release
In stipulating the conditions of Hasson’s release, on Tuesday Day said that Hasson must be subject to 24-hour home detention at one of two Virginia homes: either his mother-in-law’s rental home or a house owned by his father-in-law.
The judge also agreed to the use of global positioning equipment to monitor Hasson, who has not been charged with any terrorism-related crimes since his arrest in February on firearms and drug offenses.
Day said court officials in Virginia must inspect the two homes and set up the monitoring equipment before Hasson can be released.
“I’m thinking of third-party custodians who will be with him at all times,” Day said, The Washington Times reported. “I need to know where he lies his head at night.”
Hasson’s defense attorney Liz Oyer was cited by Stars and Stripes as saying at Tuesday’s hearing that Hasson’s family had also offered two properties as bond for his release.
Federal prosecutors in Maryland have alleged that Lt. Christopher Hasson amassed weapons and studied the manifestos of mass killers to plan a widespread attack driven by what they said are his white supremacist views. https://t.co/VJtvBPRvfi
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) May 8, 2019
NBC cited Day as saying on Tuesday that the allegations against Hasson made him “very nervous, but I don’t think it justifies detention.”
Allegations Against Hasson
In court filings cited by The Associated Press, prosecutors have described Hasson as a domestic terrorist and racist extremist intent on carrying out a massive killing spree.
They have claimed Hasson prepared a hit list that included prominent Democrats, two Supreme Court justices, network TV journalists, and social media company executives.
But Hasson’s defense attorney, Liz Oyer, earlier said that there was no evidence to back up the claim that her client was plotting a terror attack.
“They have not come forward with evidence that Mr. Hasson is a domestic terrorist because he is not,” she told Day at an April 26 hearing. She said Hasson hadn’t made any direct or specific threats against any individuals and accused prosecutors of wanting to punish Hasson for his “private thoughts.”
Prosecutors have labeled Hasson a white nationalist who “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” In a February court filing, prosecutors said Hasson drafted an email in which he said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”
Federal prosecutors oppose Hasson’s release under any conditions.
“The government continues to believe that the defendant poses a serious danger and must be detained pending trial,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom wrote in a court filing Sunday, according to the Navy Times.
Hasson has pleaded not guilty 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 sentence of 31 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.