Eighteen years in prison. This is the sentence that Stewart Rhodes, one of the figures of the American far right, will have to serve after the assault on the Capitol, which had shaken the United States, on January 6, 2021. Sentenced for "sedition", he This is the highest sentence to date for a participant in this attack. Thousands of Donald Trump supporters wreaked havoc and violence in America's temple of democracy as elected officials certified his rival Joe Biden's presidential victory.
The sprawling investigation that followed resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people. Nearly 300 received prison sentences, the longest of which so far was fourteen years.
The founder of the Oath Keepers militia did not deviate from his line of conduct, boasting of being a "political prisoner": "My only crime is to oppose those who destroy our country", he said. he launched during the hearing, in a Washington court. Federal Judge Amit Mehta snapped him in his place: "You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes," he said. "You are here because twelve jurors... found you guilty of sedition", "one of the most serious crimes an American can commit".
He also justified the severity of the sentence by the leadership role of Stewart Rhodes, a 58-year-old ex-serviceman, in the attack on the headquarters of Congress, and his lack of remorse. "You represent a persistent threat and danger to the country," the magistrate said.
Only ten right-wing militants, six members of the Oath Keepers and four Proud Boys, have been found guilty of "sedition" after three separate trials in Washington. After weeks of hearings, jurors felt they had prepared, amassing weapons and entering military training in the Capitol to block the formalization of Joe Biden's victory.
On D-Day, Stewart Rhodes, known for his black eyepatch and fiery diatribes, remained outside the Capitol, but, according to the prosecution, he led his troops by radio "like a general on the battlefield. battle ".
Kelly Meggs, also convicted of sedition, was subsequently sentenced to twelve years in prison.
A former soldier and Yale University law graduate, Stewart Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, recruiting former soldiers or police officers, initially to fight against the federal state deemed "oppressive". Like other radical groups, this militia was seduced by Donald Trump's anti-elite rhetoric and fully embraced the allegations of voter fraud brandished, against all evidence, by the Republican.
Judge Mehta also ruled that the presence of the leader of the Oath Keepers was generally not good news due to his "appetite for violence". “You are intelligent, charismatic and eloquent. That's what makes you dangerous," he told her.