LSU alum who accused Florida of lying about coronavirus data arrested
TALLAHASSEE - An LSU graduate and former Florida state worker who accused the state government of lying about its coronavirus numbers last year was arrested Sunday after she allegedly broke into a state messaging system and called for others to "speak up."
Rebekah Jones, 31, announced on social media over the weekend that the state had issued a warrant for her arrest. The Tampa Bay Times reports Jones turned herself in Sunday.
BREAKING: FDLE found no evidence of a message sent last Nov. to DOH staff telling them to 'speak out' on any of the devices they took - the entire basis for the raid on my home in Dec. The warrant was based on a lie. We argued this in court just last week. This should be victory.— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) January 16, 2021
According to the Times, state agents said Jones accessed Florida's emergency messaging system multiple times and downloaded a spreadsheet containing the names, email, addresses and phone numbers of 19,182 people across the state.
Jones appeared in court Monday and was freed after posting bail.
The Times reports the Nov. 10 message urged employees working on the state's coronavirus response to “speak up before another 17,000 people are dead."
"You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late," the message read in part.
After the message went out to about 1,700 state workers, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement traced the IP address back to Jones' home and carried out a raid Dec. 7. Agents said they obtained Jones computer and found evidence that the device was used to access the messaging system twice on Nov. 10.
Jones sued the state last month in an effort to get her computer and other electronic equipment back, claiming state police violated her rights of free speech and due process.