Joerg Arnu, who lives in the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada, is the owner of a website focused on Area 51 called “dreamlandresort.” Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI agents descended on both of his homes on November 3 to (forcefully) execute search warrants. They seized evidence for a “probe” that included laptops, phones, backup drives, camera gear, and a drone. Mr. Arnu stated that he was left with two broken doors and no way to communicate.
“This is an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation between the Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI.” Col. Bryon McGarry, spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base
“I believe the search, executed with completely unnecessary force by overzealous government agents, was meant as a message to silence the Area 51 research community… I am not a spy. I and the vast majority of members of my web site support the military and we understand the need for secrecy to keep our country safe.” Joerg Arnu Military.com
Arnu states that he has no idea what the agents were looking for, since he carefully screens things that appear on his website.
Speaking to George Knapp of KLAS this week, Arnu said he was always careful to screen posts for content that might be legitimately classified. He said he learned the hard way that something on his website crossed the line when the agents searched his home.
“I’m asking, ‘Okay, what is going on? What are you doing in my house?’” Arnu told the outlet. “I’m looking basically at this point at a riot shield and a gun that was drawn and pointed at me and an agent in a stern voice giving me commands.”
Arnu said most of the warrant is sealed, and he still does not know what the agents were looking for.
“As it is right now, I have no clear understanding of what I’m being charged with or why my property was seized,” he lamented. “Cellphones, memory sticks, backup drives, my camera equipment that is worth almost $10,000, my drone, everything was taken.”
Arnu stated that his girlfriend was ushered outside in her underwear “in full view of the neighbors” and he was handcuffed in his t-shirt and sweats and taken outside in “sub-freezing temperatures.”
He also stated that he removed some of the content on his website to “diffuse the situation,” although he believes the images were completely legal to publish.
The heavy-handed way that the FBI now executes all search warrants against Americans is ominous. Did they have reason to believe that Mr Arnu was armed? Did they treat him as a “domestic terrorist” for some specific plan or was it plain old harassment?
Arnu plans to initiate legal action in order to retrieve his property.