The state of Florida has issued an arrest warrant for Rebekah Jones, the former Department of Health data scientist who was fired last year. Jones announced Saturday on Twitter that she plans to turn herself in on Sunday.
Jones said she will surrender to authorities in an effort to “protect my family from continued police violence, and to show that I’m ready to fight whatever they throw at me.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed there is a warrant for Jones’ arrest, but told the Tampa Bay Times it cannot reveal what charges she faces until she is in custody.
Agency spokesman Gretl Plessinger said in an email to the newspaper that “agents have been working with her attorney to have her turn herself in.”
According to the Miami Herald, Jones was fired in May 2020 as the geographic information system manager for the state health department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection. The department said she was terminated for “insubordination” after she complained in an email to users of a statewide data portal that the state was manipulating the public health data being shared to the site.
Jones has maintained she was wrongfully terminated for refusing to manipulate virus data on the statewide dashboard.
Jones tweeted Saturday that her arrest warrant is tied to documents she received or downloaded from state sources while at the Department of Health. Jones added that she and her attorney were not told what she is being prosecuted for, just that she faces one criminal charge.
Jones’ home in Tallahassee was raided by state agents Dec. 7, and her computers and other electronic devices were seized, the Times reported. According to the state, there was “probable cause” to believe Jones was behind an anonymous message sent to Department of Health employees, telling them to “be a hero” and speak out about COVID-19.
The Nov. 10 message, obtained by the Sun-Sentinel, pleaded with recipients 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.”
Jones has denied sending the email, the Times reported. She added that a state agent told her the arrest warrant is unrelated to the December raid.
“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 -- the entire basis for the raid on my home in Dec.,” Jones tweeted. “Still, the state has issued a warrant for my arrest -- even though the ‘crime’ is not related to the warrant.”
Jones filed a complaint in Leon County Circuit Court, alleging that state police violated her constitutional rights of free speech and due process.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Dec. 11 news conference that Jones became known because she alleged a conspiracy at the Department of Health, WPLG reported.
“It is unfounded and never proven at all. She was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job. You think that would be the end of it,” DeSantis told reporters during the news conference. “Obviously, she has issues.”
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