Boston, MA – The Boston Police Department has arrested a reporter for Naked News, a popular news site that has been accused of being a propaganda machine for Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
On Monday, a judge sentenced James L. Brien to 10 months in federal prison for violating the Communications Decency Act, a criminal penalty that can carry a maximum of five years in prison.
Brian Anderson, who has a journalism degree from Northeastern University and has written for the Washington Post, has been in hiding since being arrested in July.
In a news release, the police department said Brien violated the terms of his plea agreement by distributing a video of a person filming an interview with Brien on his own phone.
In the video, Brien says he was arrested on June 25 and charged with disseminating “propaganda” of a war crime and using a device that can remotely detonate.
According to a federal court affidavit, Brieens arrest followed an FBI tip to authorities about his website and Facebook page.
According the affidavit, police received a tip that Brien was using a phone to film an interview on July 23.
The FBI then obtained surveillance video of Brien using his phone on July 25, and that was the first time Brien had been in public.
Brieans arrest was the result of an investigation that began after a July 22 video surfaced showing a man being handcuffed by police while he was handcuffed.
The incident sparked a national conversation about what constitutes legitimate journalism, and police officials have said they have no plans to prosecute the reporter.
The video, which shows a man with his arms handcuffed behind his back, appeared to show the use of a gas canister to blow up a police car.
Brians arrest, and the ensuing publicity, sparked a broader conversation about whether or not police have the right to detain and detain and to arrest journalists.
The New York Times reported that the Boston Police are looking into the matter, as are the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The website, which has over 4 million unique visitors a day, is run by Brien and his team.
The site’s founder, Mike Brien, was arrested last year and charged under federal racketeering law.
In his plea, Brian said he is a journalist working to bring transparency to the conflict between the United States and Russia and that he believes Naked News was a propaganda outlet that was used by Russian-aligned separatists to disseminate propaganda of the conflict.
Naked News has had numerous front-page articles in the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe and other newspapers, and its articles have been featured in outlets such as the Washington Examiner and the Washington Free Beacon.
Brieson was arrested after his arrest, the Associated Press reported.
Bria Brown, an associate director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said she was shocked by the news.
“There are serious questions to be answered about the constitutionality of this kind of conduct,” she said.
“It certainly is a serious violation of Brians rights.”
Brien also faces other charges that include interfering with government communications, violating the criminal code and interfering with federal property.
In court documents filed Monday, the prosecutors described Brien as “a participant in the operation of the website” and described the use “of a device to remotely detonicate a device.”
Prosecutors say Brien used the device to “cause damage to a government building.”
Brian’s case is pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.