A U.S. judge on Monday said she will rule within the next two days on whether Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, should remain in custody while he awaits trial on seditious conspiracy charges for his alleged role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
During a two-hour court hearing in Plano, Texas, federal prosecutors urged U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson to keep Rhodes behind bars, saying he is dangerous and could try to flee the country.
“He is charged with organizing a plot to forcibly oppose the peaceful transfer of power,” said Justice Department lawyer Kathryn Rakoczy. “It is hard to imagine a greater risk to society.”
Phillip Linder, a lawyer for Rhodes, said his client maintains his innocence and does not pose a danger.
“He not only wants a public trial, he wants a speedy public trial,” Linder said.
The judge said she would consider the evidence and issue a written ruling.
An indictment made public earlier this month accused Rhodes and 10 associates or members of the group of plotting to storm the Capitol by force in a failed bid to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Rhodes, 56, is the most high-profile defendant of more than 725 charged so far for taking part in the attack on the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. The riot was fuelled by Trump’s false claims that his election defeat was the result of fraud.
Rhodes and his associates are the first people charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the attack. That seldom-used charge can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors said that Rhodes told his supporters beginning in November 2020 to prepare to “oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power. "
“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” he said in a message two days after the election. “Too late for that. Prepare your mind body, spirit.”
In another high-profile Jan. 6 prosecution, a judge in Washington on Monday sentenced right-wing activist Brandon Straka to three years of probation and three months of home detention.
Straka recorded video of himself during the Jan. 6 attack encouraging others to take a riot shield from a police officer and push their way into the Capitol building.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said while Straka, who at one point had about 500,000 followers on Twitter, did not assault anyone, he “clearly violated the law” and made statements showing that suggested the actions of the crowd were “appropriate and justified.”
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