A federal judge has sentenced the founder of the US far-right group Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to treason after he helped organize an attack on Congress in 2021.
Supporters of the Republican president at the time Donald Trump with the attack, they wanted to prevent the formal confirmation of the Democrat’s victory Joe Biden in the presidential elections in November 2020.
Rhodes is the first person ever to be convicted of conspiracy to treason in connection with the attack on Congress, and his sentence is the longest ever handed down in connection with the attack.
Prosecutors had asked for 25 years in prison for Rhodes because he remains a threat to American democracy. Rhodes declared himself a political prisoner in court, saying that his only crime was opposing those who were destroying the country.
Federal judge Amit Mehta he agreed with prosecutors on using tougher sentences for domestic terrorists, such as the Oath Keepers, who sought to intimidate the government. “Mr. Rhodes ordered his accomplices to come over Congress and they complied,” said the judge.
A lawyer Phillip Linder denied that Rhodes had given any order to attack on January 6, 2021. He added that if Rhodes really wanted to attack, he could convince many more followers to do so.
Rhodes and an associate were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to commit sedition last November, and four other co-conspirators suffered a similar fate in January. The three Oath Keepers were acquitted of conspiracy to rebel against the state, but found guilty of other crimes.
Another federal jury also found the former leader of another related far-right group, the Proud Boys, guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion against the state. Enrique Tarria and colleagues. They are expected to be sentenced in August.
The convictions were a major blow to the group, which Rhodes founded in 2009 and has grown into one of the largest far-right militias.
The group, which includes former and current members of the military and police, promotes the belief that the federal government wants to strip citizens of their civil liberties and portrays its followers as defenders against tyranny.