Citigroup Worker Ran Popular QAnon Site That Claimed John McCain Was Killed by Military Tribunal

Citigroup has fired a New Jersey-based worker who was found to run a hugely popular QAnon conspiracy theory website which attracted millions of visitors.

Jason Gelinas has been on leave since mid-September after it emerged he was the "sole developer and mouthpiece" of the Qmap.pub website following an investigation by fact checking group Logically.ai.

The site, which posted baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, was attracting 10 million visitors a month during the height of its popularity before it went offline, according to the traffic-tracking firm SimilarWeb.

It is also reported that the Gelinas was pulling in around $3,320 a month from donations via Patreon to keep the site running.

In a lengthy report detailing the site's history, Bloomberg News credits Qmap for helping shift QAnon—which believes President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against high-profile Satan-worshipping pedophiles and will soon start taking them down—from the fringes of the internet into mainstream politics.

According to Bloomberg, among some of the other conspiracy theories shared on QMap was the belief that senator John McCain did not die of brain cancer in August 2018, but was instead sentenced to death by a military tribunal following a secret trial.

Supporters of QAnon say the claims stem from a shadowy person or persons known as "Q" who originally left clues about the theories on controversial message board site 4Chan. The messages were seen as legitimate as "Q" claimed to have a knowledge of high-level security clearance within the U.S. government.

Joe Ondrak, a researcher for Logically.ai, describe how "Q" would never explicitly make the claims, but were interpreted by QMap.

"It was all laid out in a way where someone could easily start to believe it's all true," Ondark told Bloomberg.

Gelinas, who worked as an information technology specialist for the bank, was placed on leave pending the investigation that he was violating Citigroup policy for failing to disclose that he was engaging in paid business activity outside of the company.

"Mr Gelinas is no longer employed by Citi," a company spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek. "Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action."

Gelinas' firing arrived the same week as Facebook confirmed it will be pulling all pages linked to QAnon having previously said it will stop people promoting the conspiracy theories on its platforms.

"Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports," Facebook said in a statement.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League, described the move as a "much needed, if belated" step to stop dangerous conspiracy theories spreading online.

"QAnon is an extremist movement that fuels antisemitism and promotes misinformation and hate in an effort to undermine our democratic process," Greenblatt said.

"We hope that this is a sincere effort to purge hate and antisemitism from their platform, and not another knee-jerk response to pressure from members of Congress and the public."

QAnon
A person wears a QAnon sweatshirt during a pro-Trump rally on October 3 in the borough of Staten Island in New York City. Citigroup has fired an employee after it emerged he ran a popular website dedicated to QAnon conspiracy theories. Stephanie Keith/Getty