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A Coast Guard Lieutenant Accused Of Planning A Terrorist Attack Won't Be Charged With Terrorism

Lt. Christopher Hasson may be released on bail.

Posted on April 25, 2019, at 5:06 p.m. ET

A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a white supremacist terror attack "on a scale rarely seen in this country" will not face charges related to terrorism.

That means Lt. Christopher Hasson, 50, can be released on bail as his trial on drug and firearms charges proceeds, a federal judge said on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Though prosecutors said Hasson continued to pose a serious danger, Judge Charles Day on Thursday pointed out they had not brought charges related to any terrorist conspiracy and did not plan to. As such, he's eligible for bail, the judge said.

Hasson could be released in the coming days after conditions are set. The judge added he continues to have "grave concerns" about Hasson, but he would be under supervision while released on bail.

Federal prosecutors didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as to why they were not bringing terrorism charges.

Accusations that Hasson was planning a terrorist attack were dramatically overblown, defense lawyers have said.

Hasson, who previously served as a Marine, has no prior criminal record. Last week, a lawyer for Hasson noted in a court filing that prosecutors were not planning any new charges.

Even so, prosecutors insisted that Hasson was researching potential political targets for mass murder and stockpiling weapons because of his white supremacist beliefs. He researched the home addresses of prominent Democrats in Congress, media figures, two Supreme Court justices, and leaders of social media companies, prosecutors revealed this week.

US Attorney's Office

A search of his computer also showed he'd been following the plans for a destabilizing terrorist attack as laid out by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik — a far-right figure claimed as an influence by the man behind the recent deadly attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, prosecutors said.

After Hasson was first arrested in February, the judge agreed to keep him behind bars temporarily to allow prosecutors time to add terrorism-related charges. Since then, he was also charged with illegally possessing firearm silencers.

"The silencers serve one purpose: to murder quietly," prosecutors said in a court filing. "The defendant intended to do so on a mass scale, and his detention has thwarted his unlawful desire."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.