Stewart Rhodes Bags 18 years for Capitol
The leader of a far-right militia has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the US Capitol riot.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, was convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes.
The sentence is the longest yet given to a Capitol rioter. Prosecutors had asked for 25 years.
Meanwhile, Kelly Meggs, the leader of the militia’s Florida chapter, was jailed for 12 years.
Rhodes remained outside the Capitol, but co-ordinated with Meggs and other members who stormed the building.
Rhodes and Meggs were also convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents or proceedings in one of the highest-profile trials related to the riot on 6 January 2021.
At a hearing on Thursday, Rhodes showed little remorse, claiming he was a “political prisoner” and insisting that the Oath Keepers were standing in opposition to people “who are destroying our country.”
Judge Amit Mehta rejected those claims and expressed concern about Rhodes’ violent rhetoric, including a threat to hang former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I dare say, Mr Rhodes, and I’ve never said this about anyone who I’ve sentenced: You, sir, present an ongoing threat and peril to this country, to the republic and the very fabric of our democracy,” the judge said.
“We all now hold our collective breaths with an election approaching,” he said. “Will we have another January 6th? That remains to be seen.”
Rhodes’ sentence was the longest handed out so far for the riot, where thousands of supporters of Donald Trump who objected to the result of the 2020 presidential election stormed the US legislature.
Prosecutors had asked for 25 years for Rhodes and 21 years for Meggs. Defence lawyers had argued for much lighter sentences of less than three years each.