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Far-right Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes will remain in jail until his trial on a seditious conspiracy charge for allegedly helping plot the assault on the US Capitol, a US judge has ruled, calling him a ‘clear danger and convincing”.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta told a hearing on Friday that Rhodes spent thousands of dollars on weapons and other equipment before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters and also carried out “substantial purchases” of weapons thereafter.

“He presents a clear and compelling danger, in my view,” Mehta said.

Rhodes’ lawyers had proposed that he be released into the custody of relatives in California, where he would remain in a separate residence on their property with no internet access.

Mehta said he was unhappy with this arrangement, stating that Rhodes “has been extremely sophisticated with his ability to communicate”.

Far-right Oath Keepers leader to remain in jail until trial over Capitol attack, judge says |  Attack on the United States Capitol
Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers uses a radio as he leaves a Trump rally in Minneapolis in 2019. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Defendants are often released pending trial, as they are presumed innocent until convicted, but may be detained if deemed dangerous or likely to flee the country.

Rhodes, 56, is the most high-profile defendant of more than 725 people charged with playing a role in the attack. His lawyer said there was no evidence that Rhodes conspired to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election.

He is one of 11 members or associates of the Oath Keepers facing a seditious conspiracy charge.

Rhodes is accused of spearheading a plot to block certification of the presidential election by recruiting others and even stationing armed ‘rapid reaction force’ units outside Washington to be ready to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

A US investigative judge in Texas last month ruled that Rhodes should be detained, after hearing testimony from an FBI agent as well as Rhodes’ ex-wife, who expressed concerns for his safety. Rhodes appealed this decision to Mehta.

theguardian Gt

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