At a listening to on Tuesday afternoon on Sullivan’s launch situations, Washington-based Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather cut up the distinction between prosecutors searching for to remove Sullivan’s presence on the United States’ hottest social media platforms and a protection lawyer who decried what he mentioned was an assault on his shopper’s constitutional rights.
“I am rejecting the broader prohibition on Twitter and Facebook and encrypted social media platforms,” Meriweather mentioned, additionally ordering that Sullivan be taken off of 24-hour location monitoring by way of GPS.
However, the decide mentioned Sullivan “is to no longer work for Insurgence USA,” could have his web use monitored by probation officers, and will probably be banned from utilizing any social media platforms to incite riots, violent protests, armed battle or violence. He’s additionally beneath residence detention.
Sullivan has turn out to be one of many extra outstanding people charged within the Capitol riot due to interviews he did with information retailers like CNN and a vigorous debate about whether or not he’s an Antifa provocateur. Figures reminiscent of former President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani have pointed to Sullivan as proof that leftists have been a part of the mob that stormed the Capitol. Liberal activists have denounced these claims as disinformation.
Sullivan’s politics stay murky. He has described himself as an opponent of Trump and a backer of Black Lives Matter. However, BLM activists in Utah have disowned him, saying he appeared intent on frightening violence at protests. They’ve additionally famous that Sullivan typically appears to work in tandem together with his brother, James, who spoke at a right-wing, Proud Boys occasion.
Defense legal professional Steven Kiersh denounced the prosecution’s preliminary proposal as wildly extreme and insensitive to the function that Facebook and Twitter play within the lives of many younger folks.
“The social media limits are incredibly oppressive, incredibly overbroad and serve no purpose other than to basically oppress Mr. Sullivan,” Kiersh mentioned. “Mr. Sullivan is very involved in exchanging of ideas amongst his peers, and this is how he does it.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Candice Wong additionally skewered Kiersh’s suggestion that John Sullivan is utilizing Twitter and Facebook the best way others his age do. “The defendant’s social media presence … does not read like a typical 20-something’s social media presence,” she mentioned. “It’s not about the weather. It’s not about communicating with friends.”
Kiersh insisted that there was “no connection” between Insurgence USA and the crimes Sullivan is accused of, however the gross sales of the video footage of the Capitol riot to main information retailers.
However, Wong maintained that Sullivan’s social media presence was integral to his actions on Jan. 6 and earlier violent protests he was concerned in.
“Insurgence USA is absolutely the instrumentality through which Mr. Sullivan committed the relevant acts,” she mentioned. “It is Mr. Sullivan’s reason for being there and for his criminal participation in the riot.”
At one level in the course of the listening to, Meriweather questioned whether or not Sullivan’s movies are urging protest or rioting. “There is a distinction,” she mentioned.
Wong mentioned Sullivan’s movies unambiguously urge violence and assaults on police. She mentioned he serves as “a sort of expert resource for rioters.”
“Under the guise of journalism …. he is engaged in and incited violent activity, including the kind of destructive society we saw on Jan. 6,” the prosecutor mentioned. She mentioned that Twitter and Facebook sought to block a few of Sullivan’s accounts, however that he has quite a lot of handles that cross-promote each other.
Wong additionally famous that the request to ban Sullivan from Twitter and Facebook was really narrower than the situations a Justice of the Peace in Utah imposed on Sullivan, banning him from use of 13 completely different websites or platforms. She additionally talked about that Sullivan’s former counsel agreed to that.
“I cannot account for why the lawyers representing Mr. Sullivan in Utah agreed to these conditions,” Kiersh mentioned.