Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for seditious conspiracy in the 2021 attack on the US Capitol, the harshest punishment yet for the January 6 attempt.
“Seditious conspiracy is among the most serious crimes an American can commit,” said Judge Amit Mehta in pronouncing the sentence.
“You present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country,” Mehta told Rhodes, who led the Oath Keepers and organized their participation, with a stockpile of arms, in the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.
“You are smart, charismatic and compelling and that is frankly what makes you dangerous,” Mehta said — rejecting Rhodes’ claim that he was a “political prisoner.”
Although Mehta agreed the notion that the Oath Keepers’ attempt to physically prevent Joe Biden from becoming president amounted to terrorism, the sentence fell short of the 25-year penalty sought by the government.
Just before his imprisonment, Rhodes vehemently defended his gang and their acts in support of Trump while wearing an eye patch and clothed in his orange jail jumpsuit.
“I’m a political prisoner,” he declared, comparing himself to the famed Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
“My only crime is opposing those destroying our country,” he said.
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