- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered strict bail conditions for a Coast Guard officer accused of plotting a massive terrorist attack, but stopped short of releasing him in order to give the government time to appeal the plan.

In a hearing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day ordered that Lt. Christopher Hasson, 50, be released to the home of his mother-in-law or father-in-law in Virginia while awaiting trial. One of the in-laws, who are divorced, must provide round-the-clock supervision of him.

“I’m thinking of third-party custodians who will be with him at all times,” Judge Day said. “I need to know where he lies his head at night.”

Federal prosecutors filed an appeal to oppose the plan immediately after the hearing.

Prosecutors say Lt. Hasson stockpiled weapons, planned a massive terrorist attack and drafted a hit list of Supreme Court justices, left-leaning politicians and journalists from CNN and MSNBC.



But the Coast Guard officer, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, has been charged with only minor gun and drug crimes. Judge Day ruled last month that he should not remain in jail if the government hasn’t charged him with a terrorism offense.

Lt. Hasson has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could net him 31 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors have fiercely objected to a pretrial release of Lt. Hasson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom told the court that “there are no conditions” of release that would satisfy the government except for “U.S. marshals keeping an eye on him at all times.”

Under the proposed release order, if one of Lt. Hasson’s in-laws has to leave the residence, then the other would have to come over and stay with the defendant.

Mr. Windom said the proposal is not feasible.

“This rotating band of custodians presents substantial logistical challenges that I don’t see how it could work,” he told the judge.

Prosecutors also objected to the fact that Lt. Hasson’s father-in-law had not offered his house as bail collateral. Mr. Windom said the defendant’s parents had offered their home as collateral, and Lt. Hasson’s custodian needs to have “skin in the game.”

Judge Day agreed that the father-in-law should put up some collateral if he is going to assume responsibility of monitoring the defendant.

“These people are putting up a lot,” the judge told Lt. Hasson. “Not often do you see mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law say, ‘This is my livelihood. We will throw it all on the table for you.’ It is a sacrifice.”

Other conditions of Lt. Hasson’s release include 24-hour home detention, drug testing, an electronic ankle monitor, all firearms removed from his pretrial location and no access to internet devices.

Judge Day denied a request from the government to bar Lt. Hasson’s wife from visiting him. Mr. Windom said Lt. Hasson’s wife is a witness to the crime and witnesses typically don’t have contact with a defendant ahead of a trial.

It is not clear when Lt. Hasson would be released.

In court filings unsealed in February, prosecutors cited letters that Lt. Hasson had written to himself ranting against liberal ideology and said he had compiled a hit list that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and journalists for the liberal-leaning CNN and MSNBC networks.

Last week, prosecutors filed court papers indicating two unidentified Supreme Court justices were among his intended targets.

Lt. Hasson’s public defender, Liz Oyer, has accused the government of “inflammatory accusations” against her client without producing evidence of a terrorist plot.

 

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide