The founder of a far-right group involved in the insurrection riot at the US capitol has been jailed for eighteen years.
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the militant Oath Keepers, was jailed for seditious conspiracy in the longest sentence linked to the January 6, 2021 deadly attack which aimed to keep Donald Trump in the White House.
US District Judge Amit Mehta delivered the sentence after a defiant Rhodes stood before him in an orange jumpsuit and claimed he was a “political prisoner”.
“For decades, Mr Rhodes, it is clear you have wanted the democracy of this country to devolve into violence," Judge Mehta told him.
“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."
Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper turned Yale-educated lawyer, was convicted in November by a federal court jury in Washington.
His sentence represents the longest for any of the 1,000-plus people charged in connection with the Capitol attack.
Until now, the longest sentence was 14 years in prison given to a Pennsylvania man who attacked police during the rampage.
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 25 years for Rhodes.
“Mr Rhodes led a conspiracy to use force and violence to intimidate and coerce members of our government into stopping the lawful transfer of power following a presidential election,” federal prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said.
“As the court has just found - that is terrorism.”
Rhodes did not express remorse for his crimes, choosing instead to double down and blame the far left for ‘destroying’ the country.
“I believe this country is incredibly divided. And this prosecution - not just of me, but of all J6ers [January 6-ers] – is making it even worse,” he said.
“I consider every J6er a political prisoner and all of them are being grossly overcharged.
Rhodes, who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, founded the Oath Keepers in 2009.
Judge Mehta was also due later Thursday to sentence co-defendant Kelly Meggs, a former Florida Chapter leader also convicted of seditious conspiracy.
Prosecutors have asked Judge Mehta to sentence Meggs, the group’s former Florida chapter leader, to 21 years in prison.
Meggs admitted that he should have never entered the Capitol grounds, but he nevertheless denied that he planned his actions in advance.