A U.S. Coast Guard officer accused of plotting a domestic terror attack has pleaded not guilty to weapon and drug charges.
Lieutenant Christopher Hasson on Monday appeared in U.S. District Court in Maryland and was sent back to jail ahead of his trial.
Hasson was arrested in February after police uncovered alleged plans to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," according to the government's court filing.
Officers found 15 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his suburban Washington apartment. The government has not said what prompted its investigation of Hasson in the first place.
"I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the Earth," Hasson allegedly wrote in a 2017 email. "I think a plague would be most successful, but how do I acquire the needed Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax, not sure yet, but will find something."
Prosecutors said Hasson wanted to establish a "white homeland" and had a hit list of liberal politicians singled out for assassination. They included Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a number of Democratic presidential candidates. CNN and MSNBC television personalities were also on the list.
He was indicted on charges of unlawful possession of two improperly registered silencers, possession of a narcotic opioid and possession of 17 firearms as an unlawful user and addict of a controlled substance. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.
Hasson's public defender, Julie Stelzig, has accused prosecutors of not having the evidence to back up their accusations. She says people cannot be imprisoned simply for thinking "negative thoughts" about others.