Ken Kurson, a close friend of Jared Kushner, was arrested and charged Wednesday on New York eavesdropping and computer-trespass charges, months after he got a federal pardon from then-President Donald Trump, Kushner's father in law. Kurson, editor of The New York Observer when Kushner owned it, had been charged but not tried on similar federal charges when Trump pardoned him. This is the first instance of state prosecutors charging someone pardoned by Trump for essentially the same alleged crime, in Kurson's case cyberstalking his ex-wife during their divorce proceedings.
"We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York," said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., who filed the charges. "As alleged in the complaint, Mr. Kurson launched a campaign of cybercrime, manipulation, and abuse from his perch at The New York Observer, and now the people of New York will hold him accountable. We encourage all survivors and witnesses of this type of cybercrime and intimate partner abuse to report these crimes to our Office."
Prosecutors allege that Kurson, 52, used tracking software to spy on his wife and obtain email and Facebook passwords in 2015 and 2016, then sent a private communication between his wife and a friend to the friend's supervisor, among other trespasses. His now-ex-wife told police in South Orange, New Jersey, he "terrorized her through email and social media causing her problems at work and in her social life," the New York complaint says. It is unclear if the ex-wife is cooperating with the investigation.
Kurson did not enter a plea at his arraignment Wednesday, and he was released without bail and ordered to return to court Sept. 28. Vance's office is still investigating former Trump strategist Steve Bannon for alleged crimes he was pardoned for before his case went to trial, The Washington Post reports.
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