Parler Helped FBI Identify Suspect Linked to Capitol Riot, Affidavit Shows

January 15, 2021 Updated: January 15, 2021

Parler, the social media company at the heart of a de-platforming controversy, provided federal agents with information used to identify a suspect linked to the Capitol riot, court documents show.

The FBI received records from Parler to identify Eduard Florea, the person behind an account where a number of threats originated relating to elected officials and last week’s violence at the Capitol, according to a Jan. 13 affidavit (pdf).

According to the complaint and statements made in court, Florea used the name “LoneWolfWar” in running a social media account on Parler, which he used to post threatening statements online. These included remarks about killing a senator-elect and plans to travel to Washington “as part of a group armed with firearms ready to engage in violence,” the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors stated that in one threat, Florea referred on Jan. 6 to newly-elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, writing: “Dead men can’t pass [expletive] laws.”

In another, Florea allegedly posted: “The time for peace and civility is over . . . ./3 cars full of armed patriots are enroute from NY / 3 cars of armed patriots heading into DC from NY / Guns cleaned loaded . . . got a bunch of guys all armed and ready to deploy . . . we are just waiting for the word.”

“Its time to unleash some violence,” was another Jan. 6 remark prosecutors attributed to Florea.

Parler shut down Florea’s Parler account on or around the evening of Jan. 6, court documents indicate, after law enforcement had already observed and preserved images of his posts.

The affidavit indicates that the records the FBI obtained from Parler enabling investigators to identify Florea included the phone number associated with the account. It is unclear whether Parler turned over the account information voluntarily or in response to a warrant or subpoena.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Parler for comment but did not receive a reply by publication.

parler
This illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Va., on July 2, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and NYPD officers took Florea into custody on Tuesday evening for illegal possession of ammunition, prosecutors said. After the FBI executed a warrant at Florea’s home in Queens, New York, they found around 1,000 hollow point rounds and 25 shotgun slug rounds.

Florea made his initial court appearance on Wednesday, with the judge ordering him detained pending trial.

“Florea, a previously convicted felon, made various social media posts about his plan to travel to Washington D.C. to engage in acts of violence,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, William Sweeney, in a statement.

“We saved him a trip and paid him a visit instead,” Sweeney said.

“For those of you out there with similar intentions, heed this warning—knock it off, or expect to see us at your door,” Sweeney said, referring to Florea’s plans to travel to Washington on Jan. 6, when a group of people violently breached the Capitol while the joint session of Congress was certifying electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

Over the past week, Google and Apple removed Parler from their respective app-downloading programs, while on Monday morning, Amazon Web Services (AWS) kicked the social media platform off its servers.

Parler and Amazon are involved in a lawsuit over the service cancellation, where Amazon has detailed some of the violent and threatening messages on the platform in court filings.

John Matze
Parler founder and CEO John Matze speaks to The Epoch Times’ Jan Jekielek on “American Thought Leaders” in 2019. (Screenshot/The Epoch Times)

Parler CEO John Matze has condemned the usage of the platform for violence and pushed back against claims that his company did not take responsibility for content posted on the site.

“We would never condone it, we have a lot of things in place to stop it,” Matze told Fox Business.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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