CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal prosecutors Tuesday asked a judge to restrict phone access for a southwest Ohio man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol and who recently said he wanted to shoot President Barack Obama in support of Islamic State militants.
Prosecutors filed the motion in the case of Christopher Lee Cornell, who last week made a surprise call from jail to Cincinnati's WXIX-TV. The 20-year-old suburban Cincinnati man who has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case was recorded saying if he hadn't been arrested, he would have gone to Washington and shot Obama in the head and carried out other violence.
U.S. prosecutors said in the motion that allowing easy phone access to a self-proclaimed supporter of Islamic State militants raises security concerns.
"For example, with unfettered access to a phone, the defendant could attempt to contact other individuals who are giving material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendant could also use the phone access to attempt to solicit, incite, or engage in other acts of violence," the prosecutors stated.
They want U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith to limit Cornell's phone usage to court-approved contacts, such as his attorneys and immediate family members. A Boone County (Kentucky) Jail official Tuesday evening declined a reporter's request to talk with Cornell, who has asked to be called by his Muslim name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah.
Cornell's attorneys had no immediate response. They had argued unsuccessfully in court against allowing his TV interview to air, saying it could violate the defendant's right to a fair trial.
Cornell was arrested outside a Cincinnati gun shop Jan. 14 after the FBI said he bought two M-15 assault weapons and 600 rounds of ammunition. The FBI alleged in court documents that Cornell wanted to "wage jihad." A federal indictment charges Cornell with attempted murder of government employees and officials, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and a firearms-related count.
Asked by the television interviewer last week what he would have done if not arrested, he said he would have taken a gun and "put it to Obama's head, I would have pulled the trigger, then I would unleash more bullets on the Senate and House of Representative members, and I would have attacked the Israeli embassy and various other buildings." He said he wanted to attack because of "continued American aggression."
Cornell, who lived with his parents, was coerced and misled by "a snitch" trying to better his own legal situation, his father has said.
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