Florida authorities raid dwelling of ex-official who mentioned she was ousted over coronavirus information

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Authorities in Florida on Monday raided the house of Rebekah Jones, a former state official who has mentioned she was ousted this yr for refusing to censor the state’s coronavirus information.

In a search warrant, an investigator with the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement mentioned an individual at Jones’ dwelling who was utilizing her e-mail tackle illegally gained entry to a state-run communications platform and despatched a gaggle textual content Nov. 10 telling people who it was “time to talk up earlier than one other 17,000 persons are lifeless.”

” that is incorrect,” the textual content mentioned, in keeping with the warrant. “You do not have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Converse out earlier than it is too late.”

The investigator, Noel Pratts, mentioned the brokers raided Jones’ dwelling in Tallahassee in quest of pc {hardware} and electronics.

Based on the warrant, the state Well being Division makes use of the platform, ReadyOp, for emergency administration.

Jones led the hassle to ascertain a public info portal that listed the numbers of coronavirus deaths and circumstances within the state. In Might, she advised WPEC-TV of West Palm Seashore that her exit from the Well being Division was “not voluntary” and that it occurred after she refused to “manually change information to drum up assist for the plan to reopen.”

The Well being Division didn’t touch upon Jones’ firing.

In a message Monday, Jones denied sending the Nov. 10 textual content.

“Fairly certain if I used to be gonna undergo the difficulty of studying the right way to hack, then hacking DOH of all locations, I might be rattling certain to get the demise rely proper,” she mentioned, saying the correct demise toll on Nov. 10 was 17,460.

Jones posted video of the raid Monday and mentioned state police “pointed a gun in my face.”

“They pointed weapons at my children,” she mentioned.

Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen mentioned that brokers had “knocked and referred to as” Jones, however she refused to return to the door for 20 minutes and hung up on them.

Brokers then “entered the house in accordance with regular protocols and seized a number of units that can be forensically analyzed,” he mentioned in a press release.

“At no time have been weapons pointed at anybody within the dwelling,” the assertion added.

Jones mentioned the brokers seized proof of “corruption on the state degree,” and she or he blamed the raid on Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“That is what occurs to scientists who do their job truthfully,” she mentioned. “That is what occurs to individuals who converse fact to energy.”

DeSantis’ workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. A spokesperson for the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement, Gretl Plessinger, earlier mentioned Jones refused to reply the door when brokers knocked and hung up once they referred to as her.

“After a number of makes an attempt and verbal notifications that regulation enforcement officers have been there to serve a authorized search warrant, Ms. Jones ultimately got here to the door and allowed brokers to enter,” Plessinger mentioned. “Ms. Jones’ household was upstairs when brokers made entry into the house.”

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