Lawyer argues neo-Nazi ex-reservist’s rights violated, asks U.S. judge to drop charges
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/08/2020 (934 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Patrik Mathews’ defence lawyer filed a rash of motions in U.S. federal court Monday petitioning a judge to dismiss criminal charges against the neo-Nazi and disgraced ex-Canadian military reservist.
If the four felony charges Mathews is facing in Maryland — two counts each of two firearm offences, which carry a maximum penalty of up to 40 years in federal prison — are not dropped, his lawyer, Joseph Balter, wants his trial split off from his two co-accused.
Balter claims the “vast majority of discovery” so far presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not relate to his client’s alleged crimes. Mathews has been in federal custody in Maryland since his high-profile arrest in January.
A joint trial could prejudice a jury against Mathews, Balter said.
Balter also wants to suppress evidence obtained through multiple search warrants — including audio and video surveillance, and a “sneak and peek” by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents — that he claims violated Mathews’ rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
He claims there was a “stunning” invasion of Mathews’ privacy by the agents who were investigating him. In addition, Balter wants to suppress any “statements, admissions, or confessions” Mathews made during at least one post-arrest interrogation with investigators.
While Balter concedes his client was affiliated with the neo-Nazi organization the Base, and expressed a worldview that was violent, racist and anti-Semitic, he claims Mathews’ speech was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
At no point did Mathews’ speech cross into the incitement of “imminent lawless action,” Balter said.
The Winnipeg Free Press exposed Mathews as a neo-Nazi recruiter and active combat engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces in August 2019, following a month-long undercover investigation.
Hours after being outed by the Free Press, the RCMP raided Mathews’ home in Beausejour and seized several firearms. After being briefly taken into custody, he was released without charge.
Homegrown hate: Coverage of a neo-Nazi recruiter in Winnipeg
Read Ryan Thorpe's story on infiltrating a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, and the Free Press' follow-up coverage.
Soon after, Mathews vanished, abandoning his truck near the U.S.-Canada border. He’s alleged to have linked up with neo-Nazi comrades in the U.S. and begun planning murders and terror attacks while stockpiling guns and ammunition.
Over the course of several months, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked Mathews and other alleged members of the Base, deploying a variety of counterterrorism investigative techniques.
Mathews is one of eight members of the Base who were arrested by U.S. authorities during a nationwide crackdown on the group in January 2020. His alleged co-conspirators in the case are Brian Lemley Jr. and William Bilbrough IV.
All three men have pleaded not guilty. The case has been moving slowly through the courts due to the “voluminous” evidence that needs to be disclosed to defence attorneys, and complications that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidence in the case includes a month’s worth of closed-circuit video recordings, testimony from an undercover FBI agent, telephone wiretaps and material seized during the execution of four search warrants. In addition, there is material from email accounts, messaging apps, financial and phone records and jail call recordings.
Prosecuting attorney Timothy J. Sullivan said Mathews recorded a video of himself where he advocated that white supremacists kill people, poison water supplies and derail trains in order to incite a race war.
Mathews and Lemley are also accused of planning to drive to a gun-rights rally in Virginia in January to open fire on the crowd.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.