SEATTLE (AP) — Five people linked to the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front are suing a Seattle-area man who they say infiltrated the group and leaked their identities online, causing them to steal their lost their jobs and faced harassment.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for West Washington, according to the Seattle Times reported on Tuesday. The lawsuit alleges David Capito, 37, also known as Vyacheslav Arkhangelskiy, used a fake name in 2021 when Patriot Front accepted him as a member.
Then Capito allegedly took photos at the group’s gatherings in the Pacific Northwest, recorded members’ license plates and used hidden microphones to record conversations, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit also alleges that around November 2021, Capito contacted “anarchist hackers” known for targeting far-right groups and who helped him access Patriot Front’s online chats .
The resulting leaks, published online, revealed the names, occupations, home addresses and other identifying information about the group’s members, who had attempted to hide their involvement.
“At a deeper level, this complaint seeks to defend the rule of law and the fundamental principles of freedom of expression for individuals who hold unpopular opinions,” the lawsuit states.
Capito did not respond to messages from the Seattle Times by phone or email. The newspaper attempted to contact him through the now-defunct Washington nonprofit with which he is registered. Efforts by the Associated Press to reach him were also unsuccessful.
The Patriot Front’s lawsuit sets out the group’s racist ideology by describing their common goal: “Forge anew… our people, born in this nation of our European race… as a new collective capable.” is to assert our right to cultural independence.” It describes the group’s actions as “provocative” but “non-violent”.
As a result of the members’ identities being made public online, the five plaintiffs allege that they were fired from their jobs, threatened in their homes, and had their tires slashed, among other things, the lawsuit says.
Three of the plaintiffs have Washington state ties: Colton Brown, who lived near Maple Valley and headed the state’s Patriot Front branch; James Julius Johnson of Concrete and his wife Amelia Johnson.
Brown and James Julius Johnson were among 31 Patriot Front members arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, last year and charged with planning a riot at a Pride event. Johnson and four other men were convicted of conspiracy to riot convicted last month to several days in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The other two plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit are Paul Gancarz of Virginia and Daniel Turetchi of Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified economic and punitive damages and an order prohibiting Capito from using the personal information of Patriot Front members.
Capito’s actions “would be extremely offensive to any reasonable person who holds unusual or unpopular opinions,” the lawsuit says. The group’s ideals have “often been misinterpreted or distorted by the public and mainstream media…”
The federal lawsuit on behalf of the Patriot Front plaintiffs was filed by Christopher Hogue, a Spokane attorney, and Glen Allen, an attorney from Baltimore, Maryland. Hogue did not respond to a request from the newspaper for comment and Allen declined an interview.
“To be honest, I’ve learned from unfortunate experience to be careful when talking to journalists. My clients feel the same way,” Allen said in an email to the newspaper.