08:14, June 01 47 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-01 08:14:13
Prosecutors drop charges against inauguration protesters after judge says they withheld videos

Federal prosecutors dismissed all charges against seven inauguration protesters and reduced charges against three others after a Washington, D.C., judge criticized the government for withholding undercover videos recorded by an activist group.

Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin dismissed the charges Thursday at the request of prosecutors after he criticized the government for initially disclosing only one secret video of a planning meeting recorded by the group Project Veritas, report BuzzFeed News, the Huffington Post and Law & Crime.

Morin said last week that the government had withheld the full version of the meeting video. The government belatedly disclosed that there were 69 additional recordings, according to a motion filed by defense lawyer Andrew Clarke. Many videos included discussions of de-escalation tactics, he wrote.

The partial video turned over to the defense did not include a planner who said: “I was talking with one of the organizers from the IWW, and I don’t think they know anything about any of the upper-echelon stuff.” The defense said that undercut the contention that the defendants planned violence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Baset said the other videos weren’t disclosed because they concerned planning meetings that weren’t related to the demonstration that ended with mass arrests.

Morin dismissed a conspiracy charge against the defendants with prejudice, which bars the prosecution from refiling the charge, according to BuzzFeed. The judge dismissed other charges without prejudice.

Project Veritas says its goal is to expose wrongdoing. BuzzFeed describes says it is a right-wing activist group.

Fifty-two defendants still face charges over inauguration protests. Six protesters were acquitted on charges of rioting and property destruction in December.