Federal authorities in New York have arrested a man they said posted internet threats to kill Luis Abinader, the President of the Dominican Republic, who arrived for the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.
Enrique Figueroa, 47, began making threats in August against Mr Abinader, according to a criminal complaint made public on Monday. In one case last month, Figueroa posted a video on Facebook citing the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, saying listeners should remember what happened to him, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal District Court, noted that earlier this month, the Dominican government provided U.S. law enforcement officials with a screenshot of an Instagram post by Mr. Figueroa showing off a military style assault rifle, accompanied by a caption who named Mr. Abinader and said: “We will see each other in early September”.
Mr Figueroa was arrested on Sunday evening after using Instagram to post a photo of Mr Abinader’s motorcade in New York City, and another image of himself dialing a phone, with the caption warning that if l The call was not taken, Mr. Abinader would do it and not leave the United States, and “then you will know who is crazy”.
Mr. Figueroa was taken into custody on Monday by a magistrate, James L. Cott.
In court, a federal prosecutor, Alexander Li, said that Mr. Figueroa was questioned by authorities on September 11, when he tried unsuccessfully to board a flight to the Dominican Republic; he told investigators he was a member of QAnon and planned to attend a rally in Washington last Saturday.
The government believed he attended the Justice for J6 rally, Li said. (Figueroa was blocked from theft due to an expired passport, according to the complaint.)
Mr. Li also told the judge that Mr. Figueroa was arrested late last month in a domestic violence case, in which he was accused of attempting to strangle a woman in his family.
Mr Figueroa appeared visibly agitated in court, saying, after the hearing ended, “These are not my jobs” as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. His lawyer, Amy Gallicchio, declined to comment after the hearing.
Mr Abinader, who had never held an elected office before, won the presidency in July last year with nearly 53% of the vote, ending 16 years of power by the center party -left of the country. Once heavily involved in the Caribbean nation’s tourism industry, he unsuccessfully ran for vice president in 2012 and president in 2016, when he finished second.
He is expected to address the General Assembly on Wednesday, the president’s office said in a statement.
Efforts to reach the Dominican Republic’s permanent mission by telephone and email on Monday were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the president did not respond to a message on Twitter seeking comment.
Mr. Figueroa was questioned a second time by authorities on Friday, two days before his arrest, according to the complaint.
Members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force visited him, and during the interview he appeared chastised and assured federal agents and detectives that he “didn’t mean it” and that “nothing was happening anymore. reproduce, ”according to a senior law enforcement official.
But, the next day, he posted the two photographs on Instagram with the threatening comments, according to the complaint.
The official said investigators do not believe Figueroa poses a significant threat, but that he was charged because he ignored the warning and repeated the threats. The official suggested that alcohol may have been involved.
William K. Rashbaum and Sean Piccoli contributed reporting from New York and Oscar Lopez from Mexico City.