AP

Ex-Navy yard worker charged with lying to FBI denied bail

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former Philadelphia Navy Yard worker charged with lying to the FBI about his ties to white nationalist groups to obtain security clearance at the historic shipyard was denied bail Wednesday.

Fred Arena, 41, stands accused of lying on an application for a national security clearance in January for his job as a government contractor at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility.

The Salem, New Jersey, resident is an avowed member of Vanguard America, a white supremacist group, and authorities said he did not disclose on the federal form that he had ever been a member of the organization.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pennsylvania arrested and charged Arena with making false statements to government agents in October.

Arena has denied the allegations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge withheld bail because he agreed with prosecutors' depiction of Arena, who say he's a danger to the community and potential witnesses in his case, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Arena's Facebook pages are filled with photos of him holding guns and knives with captions that threaten violence to places of worship, the Inquirer reported.

Strawbridge's decision came after several hearings over the last week in which his attorney, Brian Zeiger, accused prosecutors of attempting to jail Arena solely because of his beliefs.

Zeiger pushed back on the assertion that Arena's social media posts were proof of him being an imminent threat.

"Every single thing in those photos is legal under the First and Second Amendments," Zeiger said during proceedings Thursday. "It's not illegal to be a member of one of those groups."

A trial date has not been set in his case.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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