A number of people in the eastern US state of New Jersey are facing terrorism charges for allegedly threatening to knowingly transmit COVID-19 to law enforcement personnel.
According to the British newspaper, “The Guardian”, 28-year-old Dia Luis was arrested in the early days of the epidemic based on arrest warrants related to non-payment of traffic tickets, but during her detention the police claimed that she coughed near the officers and said she had Covid-19.
There is no video recording of the incident, and Lewis could end up facing a terrorism charge that could put her in prison for up to 10 years, according to the Guardian.
Lewis is only one of many similar cases that were charged in the early days of the epidemic, as the New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbert Grewal, announced in April 2020 the prosecution of six people accused of threatening police officers by spitting or coughing on them, while claiming that they were infected. with covid-19.
Grewal said at the time that his office would work to raise the level of charges in all six cases to a second-degree charge of making terrorist threats during a state of emergency, a charge that carries a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Since then, Grewal has left his position as New Jersey’s attorney general and joined the administration of President Joe Biden as Executive Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And the Guardian notes that terrorism charges of this kind are rare and assume serious penalties that were only available to New Jersey prosecutors because the state imposed a state of emergency due to the pandemic.
The terrorism-related charges in New Jersey may have been inspired by the previous administration of Donald Trump, which, under Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, issued a memorandum encouraging state and local law enforcement to target criminal activity related to “the intentional exposure and transmission of COVID-19 to others.”
According to the Guardian, it appears that prosecutors have stopped bringing new charges of second-degree terrorist threats, as the last terrorism charge related to the epidemic was issued in December 2020.
Source: “The Guardian”