Fired Florida coronavirus data manager Rebekah Jones left the Leon County Detention Facility early Monday, a short time after turning herself in on a warrant issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
What You Need To Know
- Rebekah Jones turned herself in to Leon County Detention Facility
- She was wanted on warrant related to anonymous message to workers
Jones's warrant said she was “charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices …,” FDLE said.
A judge had set bond at $2,500.
Jones left the detention facility Monday with an unidentified man wearing dark sunglasses and a suit.
Jones, the man, and a reporter were seen walking briskly away from the jail. Other reporters and camera operators followed as they walked. The unidentified suited man asked reporters to respect the woman's privacy.
Jones, wearing a mask and a heavy jacket, was walking between a reporter and the suited man when suddenly, she backed away, waved her right arm with palm open, and said, "I've tested COVID positive, you guys, so..." She didn't elaborate.
Jones got into the passenger side of a pickup, and they drove away.
She had been prohibited by the state from computer and internet access, but the court said she could retain access to cell phones, computers and the internet. She was ordered not to access any state computer systems or having any contact “with any of the people whose information was downloaded.”
Jones now lives in Washington, D.C.
Over the weekend, Jones — who helped create Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard — tweeted that she planned to surrender on the charges Sunday night.
But Sunday, the 31-year-old Jones tweeted: "Censored by the state of Florida until further notice."
Censored by the state of Florida until further notice. #LetHerSpeak— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) January 17, 2021
FDLE agents raided Jones’s home last month. State investigators said they obtained a warrant stemming from an investigation into an anonymous message sent through the Florida Department of Health's system that encouraged workers to speak out against the way COVID-19 data was being handled by the state.
Agents with the FDLE determined that the anonymous message was sent from Jones’s home, they said.
“Evidence retrieved from a search warrant on December 7 shows that Jones illegally accessed the system sending a message to approximately 1,750 people and downloaded confidential FDOH data and saved it to her devices,” FDLE said.
"It's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don't have to be part of this, Be a hero. Speak out before it's too late. - From StateESF8.Planning." This message carried a time stamp of 11/10/2020 at 14:44:54 (UTC -0500).
In the arrest warrant, Jones is accused of illegally downloading personal information of 19,182 people, including Florida DOH employees.
Jones was fired in May by the state after raising questions about the coronavirus information being released by the state and making public remarks about the data.
The former Florida Department of Health data manager has accused Gov. Ron DeSantis's administration of trying to manipulate COVID-19 figures and is suing the head of the FDLE and two agents for the raid on her home.