Leader of white supremacist group arrested for allegedly threatening to kill journalist
The leader of a white supremacist group was arrested Tuesday in San Jose, California in connection with a complaint filed in a federal court alleging he conspired to make death threats against a Brooklyn-based journalist.
The complaint alleged that Nicholas Welker, a former leader of the Feuerkrieg Division, conspired with others to make death threats against a journalist who had reported on the extremist group. The complaint alleged that Welker, 31, posted death threats about the journalist in an online forum, which were then tweeted at the journalist by Welker’s co-conspirators.
The Feuerkrieg Division is an “international racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist” group, according to the complaint. The group “encourages attacks on racial minorities, the Jewish community, the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. Government, journalists, and critical infrastructure,” according to the complaint.
“As alleged, Nicholas Welker used threats of violence in an effort to stop a journalist from reporting on the white supremacist hate group that he led,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “He sought to quell freedom of expression and to intimidate and instill fear in a journalist and the journalist’s employer—a well-known news media organization.”
“We will not hesitate to prosecute those who threaten the core values on which our society was founded, including freedom of the press,” Peace added.
The complaint, which was filed by FBI Special Agent Erica Dobin in Brooklyn federal court, included a description and image of the threat made by Welker to the journalist. The alleged threat included an image of a gun pointed at the journalist’s head with the words “Race Traitor” printed over the journalist’s eyes.
The vulgar caption of the threat told the journalist to “f— off” alongside “YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED,” according to the complaint.
The threat also included the journalist’s name, where he worked as reporter at a news media company, and claimed he was “Responsible for Stalking our Boys for Information.”
The journalist’s name and news company were redacted in the complaint.
Two of the other conspirators, who were minors, tweeted and retweeted the threat, tagging the journalist’s handle.
Dobin wrote in the complaint that tweeting or retweeting the threat at the journalist’s handle were ways that the conspirators communicated with that user.
“As alleged, Mr. Welker and those he encouraged attempted to silence a journalist with threats of violence,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “Freedom of both speech and the press are integral to our nation, and we will not allow it to be restricted through violence or intimidation.”
“Today’s action serves as a reminder to anyone willing to attack these rights — the FBI will do everything in our power to fulfill our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” he added.
Welker could face up to five years in prison if convicted. He is expected to appear in the Northern District of California federal court on Tuesday.
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