- Authorities say some people who participated in the Capitol riots later erased evidence, the Associated Press reports.
- People removed texts or social media posts that showed they had participated in the insurgency, authorities said in court documents viewed by AP.
- They are among the 545 people arrested in connection with the siege of the Capitol on January 6.
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At least 49 people indicted in connection with the U.S. Capitol riots in January are also charged with attempting to delete evidence from their phones and social media accounts, according to a review of court records by the Associated press, published on Saturday.
Court documents cited by AP show that the defendants are accused of attempting to erase images, videos and texts that document their involvement in the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It took several hours for authorities to regain control after supporters of then-President Donald Trump invaded the building and at least four people died.
An accused texted his presence inside the Capitol during the riots, authorities said in court documents cited by AP. In a text message sent two days after the uprising, an associate of the defendant told him to remove all content from his social media accounts and buy a new phone, authorities said in court documents viewed by AP . The accused then closed his Facebook account, where he had uploaded photos and written articles about the attack, authorities said in the documents, according to AP.
Those accused of removing incriminating content from their phone or social media accounts are part of a larger group of 545 people arrested in connection with the siege of the Capitol.
Another defendant, who authorities say posted videos and comments on social media showing he was inside the Capitol during the riots, chose not to restore his new phone with iCloud content of his 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 obtain legal permission to view them, Adam Scott Wandt, professor of public policy at John Jay College of Criminal told AP Justice.
Meanwhile, Joel Hirschhorn, a Miami criminal defense attorney, told AP that metadata – information hidden in media files – would show whether social media material has been altered or removed.