Coast Guard officer accused of plotting terrorist attack asks judge to review his jail status
The attorney for a U.S. Coast Guard officer accused of plotting a terrorist attack in the Washington region has asked a federal judge to review his detention status, saying her client still hasn’t been charged with any terrorism-related offenses.
Lt. Christopher Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, Md., was arrested in February and charged with drug and weapons counts as part of what the government said was a planned domestic attack targeting politicians and media personalities.
In a memo filed Monday, Hasson’s federal public defender said no other charges have been brought against her client related to alleged domestic terrorism, and she asked the court to reconsider whether he should remain jailed pending trial.
After Hasson’s arrest, federal prosecutors asserted in court documents that he described himself as a “longtime White Nationalist,” studied the work of mass attackers and planned “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” Prosecutors said Hasson’s Internet searches and activity on his government computer raised suspicions about an internal “threat” that prompted the Coast Guard and FBI personnel in Baltimore to investigate.
Hasson has pleaded not guilty.
At his detention hearing Feb. 21, Hasson’s lawyers said there was no proof that he intended to carry out an attack and argued that he shouldn’t remain in jail pending trial if he doesn’t face terrorism-related charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day ordered that Hasson remain jailed but gave the government 14 days to file additional charges connected with “any of the assorted criminal activity that they allude to and have argued here today about.” Day said that absent charges, Hasson’s defense could come back and request a rehearing on his detention status.
Less than a week later, the government indicted Hasson on two additional weapons charges related to unlawful possession of silencers. On March 11, after Hasson had appeared in court and entered his plea of not guilty, Day granted the government’s motion to keep Hasson detained during trial.
“Many more than 14 days have now passed, and the government has not charged Mr. Hasson with any terrorism-related offense,” assistant federal public defender Elizabeth Oyer wrote in a memo asking for another hearing to review Hasson’s pretrial detention status.
Oyer also said that the government told her and the court that it didn’t expect to file a superseding indictment in the case.
A spokesman for the office of the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland declined to comment.
The government has not responded to the memo, and a hearing has not been scheduled, according to online court records.
Hasson was in the Coast Guard for more than 20 years and also had served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard. The Coast Guard said they suspended his secret security clearance.