Far-right leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in prison for ‘sedition’ in Capitol storm

Far-right leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in prison for 'sedition' in Capitol storm

Stewart Rhodes, one of the figures from the American extreme right, was sentenced on Thursday to eighteen years in prison for “sedition”, the highest sentence so far in connection with the attack on the Capitol. The founder of the militia “Oath Keepers” adopted a defiant attitude to the end: “I am a political prisoner”, “my only crime is opposing those who destroy our country”he launched just before he became aware of his sentence.

Federal judge Amit Mehta briefly put him in his place: “You are NOT a political prisoner Mr. Rhodes”he said. “You’re here because twelve jurors (…) found you guilty of sedition”, “one of the most serious crimes an American can commit”.

The charge, which involves planning to use force against the government, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. But prosecutors had requested twenty-five years against Stewart Rhodes, based on a provision that allows for enhanced penalties for acts of nature “terrorist”. Without following them completely, Justice Mehta endorsed their analysis on this point. “Acts of intimidation or coercion intended to burden the government” falls under this category, he said.

He also justified the severity of the sentence with the leadership role of Stewart Rhodes, a 58-year-old ex-serviceman, and his lack of remorse. “You represent a continuing threat and danger to the country”argued the magistrate.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of supporters of Donald Trump had sowed chaos and violence in the seat of Congress, as elected officials confirmed his rival Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The extensive investigation that followed led to the arrest of more than a thousand people. Almost three hundred people were given prison sentences, of which the harshest so far was fourteen years.

Also read: Capitol Assault: Two members of the Oath Keepers militia convicted of sedition

“A General on a Battlefield”

But only ten activists from far-right groups – six members of “Oath Keepers” and four “Proud Boys” – were found guilty of “rebellion” after three separate trials in Washington. After weeks of hearings, jurors felt they had prepared, stockpiled weapons and initiated military training at the Capitol to prevent Donald Trump’s defeat from being made official.

On D-Day, Stewart Rhodes, known for his black eyepatch and fiery arguments, remained outside the Capitol but, according to prosecutors, led his troops by radio “like a general on the battlefield”. During his trial, the tribune had declined “to have planned” attacked and argued that “assignment” of the Oath Keepers was to provide security for the demonstration, which Donald Trump called to condemn alleged “election fraud”.

Also read: USA: the leader of the Oath Keepers denies having planned the attack on the Capitol

He maintained that he had been presented with a fait accompli, he had assessed “Stupid” that Kelly Meggs, who heads the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, walked into the Capitol. “It opened the door to our political persecution”, he said. Kelly Meggs, also convicted of rioting, will receive her sentence later in the day on Thursday.

The world with AFP


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