The FBI says it is conducting several investigations in Keene this morning, including at 73-75 Leverett St. and on Route 101, properties associated with a group known as Free Keene.
This is “court-authorized law-enforcement activity” in connection with an ongoing federal investigation, said spokeswoman Kristen Setera.
There is no threat to public safety, Setera said. She declined to comment on the nature of the federal investigation, saying that it is still underway.
The local investigations Tuesday are also at 661 Marlboro Road (Route 101) and at 659 Marlboro Road, which is owned by Shire Free Church Holdings LLC. That entity also owned the Leverett Street house until ownership was transferred in 2014.
Keene police Lt. Steven Tenney said Tuesday morning that the department is not actively involved in the investigations. Keene police officers are managing traffic near the properties under investigation, he said.
FBI officials were seen going into the house at 659 Marlboro Road and the nearby business, Mighty Moose Mart. Christopher Waid, a part-owner of Mighty Moose, said he rents his business space from the church. Waid said he is also a co-host of Free Talk Live, a program affiliated with the church.
The N.H. Secretary of State’s office lists Ian Freeman, another co-host of Free Talk Live, as chair of Shire Free Church Monadnock’s board of directors and its main address is listed as 73-75 Leverett St.
The Leverett Street house is now owned by Shire Free Church Monadnock and has been home to some individuals associated with the libertarian-leaning activist group often referred to locally as Free Keene.
In 2016, FBI officials seized items from the same house as part of an ongoing investigation into what a search warrant stated as the possession or distribution of child pornography.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed at the time, that raid was triggered by a weekslong sting operation set up by federal authorities in Virginia after seizing a child pornography distribution website. The affidavit stated that the FBI had tracked one user to an IP address assigned to Free Talk Live, which is hosted at the Leverett Street house.
The affidavit mentioned that Freeman lived at the house and was associated with Free Talk Live, but did not contain direct evidence that he had accessed the website. Freeman denied he or his housemates had done so, and noted that many people had access to the house’s network.
No arrests were made, and Freeman was never charged in federal court with anything related to the raid, according to the federal judiciary’s online database of cases.
Subsequent attempts by The Sentinel to obtain information on that case have been met with silence from the FBI.
The FBI’s March 16 operation at the Leverett Street house does not appear related to its earlier investigation. Six New Hampshire residents, including Freeman, were arrested in a coordinated federal operation March 16 and charged with running an unlicensed scheme to sell virtual currency.
Other Sentinel staff contributed reporting. This article has been updated to reflect new information about the March 16 search at 73-75 Leverett St.