Capitol riot extremist Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced Thursday to the longest prison term among hundreds of Capitol rioters.
The founder of the extremist group Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a week-long plot that culminated in his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol in an attempt to prevent the President Joe Biden entering the White House after winning the 2020 election.
Rhodes is the first person convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to receive his sentence, and his sentence is the longest handed down to date in hundreds of Capitol riot cases.
It’s another milestone for the Justice Department’s sprawling Jan. 6 investigation, which led to convictions for seditious conspiracy against top leaders of two far-right extremist groups, authorities say came to Washington. ready to fight to keep former US President Donald Trump in power at all costs. .
“The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to hold accountable the criminals responsible for the January 6 attack on our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
In a first for a Jan. 6 case, the judge agreed with the Justice Department that Rhodes’ actions should be punished as “terrorism,” increasing the recommended sentence under federal guidelines. The move could portend lengthy sentences for other far-right extremists, including former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who were also found guilty on the rarely used charge.
Before announcing Rhodes’ sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta described a defiant Rhodes as a continuing threat to the United States and democracy. The judge expressed fear that what happened on Jan. 6 could be repeated, saying Americans “will now hold our collective breath every time an election approaches.”
Rhodes did not take the opportunity to address the judge to express remorse or appeal for leniency, but instead claimed to be a “political prisoner”, criticized prosecutors and the Biden administration and attempted to minimize his actions.
“I am a political prisoner and like President Trump, my only crime is to oppose those who destroy our country,” said Rhodes, who appeared in federal court in Washington in orange prison gear.
Another oath-keeper convicted of seditious conspiracy alongside Rhodes – Florida Chapter Chief Kelly Meggs – was sentenced later Thursday to 12 years behind bars.
Meggs said he was sorry to have been involved in the riot which left a “black eye on the country”, but maintained that he never planned to enter the Capitol.
Other oath keepers are expected to be sentenced on Friday and next week.