Feb. 22 (UPI) — A Maryland district judge ordered a Coast Guard lieutenant suspected of planning a large-scale terrorist attack detained prior to trial, according to court documents, giving the prosecution two more weeks to uncover charges before the defense can appeal.
The prosecution sought for Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, to be detained prior to trial as he posed a risk to the public after he was arrested last Friday on gun and drug charges, which were were just “the tip of the iceberg,” its complaint stated.
Prosecutors alleged that the defendant is a domestic terrorist and self-described white supremacist who was stockpiling weapons and taking human growth hormones in order to conduct a terrorist attack “on a scale rarely seen in this country” in order to start a race war.
A list of Democratic politicians and commentators was also discovered on his computers that the prosecution alleges were people he was targeting to murder.
“The sheer number and force of the weapons recovered from Mr. Hasson’s residence in this case, coupled with the disturbing nature of his writings, appear to reflect a very significant threat to the safety of our community, particularly given the position of trust that Mr. Hasson held with the United States government,” U.S. Attorney of the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur said, the Washington Post cited.
Julie Stelzig, a public defender representing Hasson, argued in court against his detention, saying that Hasson had no prior charges, the description of him as a domestic terrorist was a “histrionic characterization,” his cache of guns was “modest at best” for the average gun collector and that the prosecution had “no actual indication of any plan” to conduct a terrorist attack.
“It’s not a crime to think negative thoughts. It’s not a crime to think about doomsday scenarios,” she said, adding, “We are not yet a society that criminalizes people for their thoughts … or detains people for their Internet searches,” CNN reported.
With Hasson in court wearing a maroon jumpsuit, Day said, “What drives the government’s concern is what also gives the court pause.”
In a statement Thursday from Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, the service began investigating Hasson in 2018.
A computer program that detects threats from within the service “identified concerns about him,” McBride said.
Hasson allegedly spent hours planning a terrorist attack, even on his work computer at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., studying the 1,500-page manifesto of Norwegian right-wing domestic terrorist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in his native country.
Agents with the FBI and Coast Guard Investigative Service made the arrest last Friday once they were “confident in the strength of the evidence,” McBride said.