BERKELEY HEIGHTS — A New Jersey man has been identified as the operator of a now-defunct website that had been peddling QAnon conspiracy theories.

Township resident Jason Gelinas, an information technology specialist, was outed by the fact-checking website Logically as the man behind the website known as QMap and QAppAnon.

Since the article was published online, QMap was been taken offline, as have all of Gelinas's social media accounts.

Gelinas told a Bloomberg reporter on Friday that QAnon is a “patriotic movement to save the country" and declined to comment further.

QAnon is notable for its long list of false claims and wrong predictions. It has been designated by the FBI as a growing national threat. Generally speaking, the far-right movement believes that President Trump is fighting a Satan-worshiping, "deep-state" cabal of pedophiles. The idea appears to have gotten its start in 2017 on the message board 4chan, although it is not known who was responsible.

Logically's report described Gelinas' website as "a crucial port of call for all QAnon information and a major node in how the movement disseminates its lore," getting visits from 10 million people a month.

The theory is similar but not related to the so-called Pizzagate theory that Hillary Clinton campaign officials were involved in a pedophile ring headquartered in the non-existent basement of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. A believer was sentenced to four years in prison in 2017 for showing up to the restaurant with a rifle and revolver in order to "investigate."

Last year, police in Brick arrested an apparent QAnon believer on charges of killing a mob boss in Staten Island.

The QAnon movement, which has been likened to a cult, has gained traction among some of Trump's most ardent supporters and a number of Republican candidates have been linked to it, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is expected to win a U.S House seat in Georgia.

Vice President Mike Pence canceled his appearance at a Trump fundraiser in Montana after the Associated Press on Friday revealed that the hosts had supported the conspiracy theory. Pence has disavowed the movement, telling CBS last month, “I don’t know anything about QAnon, and I dismiss it out of hand."

The president, however, has amplified QAnon followers, ideas and candidates on his Twitter feed. Last month, when asked about the fringe movement, Trump did not disassociate himself, adding that he "heard these are people that love our country."

Includes material Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press.

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