- Authorities claim some people who took part in the Capitol riots later wiped evidence, the Associated Press reports.
- The people deleted texts or social media posts that showed they’d participated in the insurrection, authorities said in court documents viewed by AP.
- They are among the 545 people arrested in connection with the Capitol siege on January 6.
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At least 49 people charged in connection with the US Capitol riots in January are also accused of trying to delete evidence from their phones and social media accounts, according to a review of court records by the Associated Press, published Saturday.
The court documents cited by AP show that the defendants are accused of trying to erase images, videos, and texts that document their involvement in the deadly siege on the US Capitol on January 6. It took several hours for authorities to regain control after supporters of then-President Donald Trump swarmed the building, and at least four people died.
One defendant sent texts about being inside the Capitol during the riots, authorities said in the court documents cited by AP. In a text sent two days after the insurrection, an associate of the defendant told him to delete all content from his social media accounts and buy a new phone, authorities said in the court documents seen by AP. The defendant then shut down his Facebook account, where he had uploaded photos and written posts about the attack, authorities said in the documents, according to AP.
The people accused of deleting incriminating content from their phones or social media accounts are part of a wider pool of 545 people who have been arrested in connection with the Capitol siege.
Another defendant, who authorities say posted videos and comments on social media showing they were inside the Capitol during the riots, chose to not restore their new phone with iCloud content from their old device, potentially to hide evidence, authorities said in court documents seen by AP.
Authorities can ask social media companies to preserve posts and content until they get legal authority to view them, Adam Scott Wandt, a public policy professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told AP.
Meanwhile, Joel Hirschhorn, a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, told AP that metadata – hidden information within media files – will show whether social media material was modified or deleted.