A Florida woman fired from her job as a COVID-19 data curator surrendered to authorities Sunday amid an investigation of allegations that she had hacked into the state’s emergency response system.
Rebekah Jones, 31, turned herself in to Leon County Sheriff's Department officials and is charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices.
Court records show that Jones posted a $2,500 bond following an initial appearance hearing in Tallahassee on Monday morning. She told reporters as she walked out of jail that she tested positive for COVID-19.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Jones has been under investigation since early November after someone illegally accessed the state’s emergency alert health system, warning employees “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.”
Federal authorities raided her home in December, seizing her computers and other data equipment.
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In the tweet Saturday, she said that “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.”
Jones was fired from her post in May after she raised questions about Florida’s COVID-19 data. She had been reprimanded several times and was ultimately fired for violating Health Department policy by making public remarks about the information, state records show.
“FDLE found no evidence of a message sent last Nov. to DOH staff telling them to ‘speak out’ on any of the devices they took ... However, police did find documents I received/downloaded from sources in the state, or something of that nature,” she said in a series of Twitter statements.
DeSantis has defended the state’s handling of the case. After the December raid, Jones filed a complaint in Leon County Circuit Court alleging state police violated her rights to free speech and due process.