A data scientist who was accused of hacking Florida’s health alert system turned herself in on a felony charge Sunday, Reuters reported.
Rebekah Jones claimed that she was fired in May 2020 for refusing to manipulate data to cover up the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks. She was then accused of hacking a government messaging system to tell employees to speak out about COVID-19 deaths.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement obtained a warrant and searched her home in December.
Jones has been charged with a third-degree felony for using the state’s emergency alert system to send an unauthorized message. “It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late,” the message read. She has also been accused of downloading confidential information, NPR reported. (RELATED: Hackers ‘Unlawfully Accessed’ BioNTEch COVID-19 Vaccine Data)
Jones was released Monday on bail. The judge refused to fit her with a tracking device while she waited for her trial, Reuters reported.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release that Jones turned herself in Sunday. She also tested positive for COVID-19 while in custody, Reuters reported.
Jones wrote about her decision in a series of tweets.
To protect my family from continued police violence, and to show that I’m ready to fight whatever they throw at me, I’m turning myself into police in Florida Sunday night. The Governor will not win his war on science and free speech. He will not silence those who speak out.
— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) January 16, 2021
“To protect my family from continued police violence, and to show that I’m ready to fight whatever they throw at me, I’m turning myself into police in Florida Sunday night,” she said.
She faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted, according to Reuters.