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Judge releases Coast Guard officer who targeted Supreme Court justices

By Darryl Coote and Danielle Haynes
Former Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson said it's not a crime to think negative thoughts and argued for his pre-trial release. File Photo courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland/UPI
Former Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson said it's not a crime to think negative thoughts and argued for his pre-trial release. File Photo courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday ordered the release of a former Coast Guard officer accused of plotting to kill liberal politicians and commentators.

U.S. District Judge Paul Day said Christopher Hasson must be released from jail because he hasn't been charged with murder or terrorism-related offenses. Day also said that though Hasson is dangerous, he's not as dangerous as the government makes him appear.

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Hasson pleaded not guilty March 11 to weapons and drug charges prosecutors say were connected to his plan to start a race war by committing a domestic terror attack. He was arrested in February in Maryland with a stockpile of guns and more than 30 bottles labeled human growth hormone.

Prosecutors said in the documents filed Tuesday that Hasson had searched the Internet for "are Supreme Court justices protected" some two weeks before attempting to look up their home addresses. They also said the former Coast Guard lieutenant's "Internet search history lays bare his views on race" as he attempted to look up the "best" gun to kill African Americans.

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In the initial court filing, prosecutors said the drug and firearms charges were "the proverbial tip of the iceberg" while describing him as a domestic terrorist plotting to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country."

Authorities said Hasson compiled a spreadsheet that included about 20 prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizers and media personalities, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and others.

Prosecutors filed documents Tuesday to urge the court to keep Hasson detained before his drug and firearms trial.

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Hasson's attorney argued against pretrial detention, saying, "It's not a crime to think negative thoughts. It's not a crime to think about doomsday scenarios."

If convicted, Hasson could face 31 years in prison.

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