(The Hill) – Federal prosecutors have indicted the founder of the Oath Keepers and 10 other members of the far-right group with seditious conspiracy over their role in the January 6 riot, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Stewart Rhodes, 56, was arrested Thursday in Little Elm, Texas, and also faces charges of crimes related to the violation of the U.S. Capitol.
The leader and founder of Oath Keepers said he was present at the riot but never entered the Capitol on January 6.
“The indictment of seditious conspiracy alleges that following the presidential election of November 3, 2020, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to forcibly oppose the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021, ”the Justice Department wrote in a statement.
“From the end of December 2020, via encrypted and private communication applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, DC on or around January 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the vote of the electoral college, the indictment alleges. Rhodes and several co-conspirators have made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, DC metro area in early January 2021. “
It is the first seditious conspiracy charge used in connection with the riot, resulting in up to 20 years in prison for those who “conspire to overthrow, overthrow or destroy by force” the government.
The charges follow a speech by Attorney General Merrick Garland a day before the anniversary of the attack, in which he defended the ministry’s prosecution efforts amid complaints that they were moving too slowly to target leaders who could have been at the origin of the attack on the Capitol.
Garland pledged a willingness to prosecute those involved “at any level … whether they were present that day or whether they were criminally responsible for the aggression against our democracy.”
“We build surveys by laying the groundwork. We solve the simpler cases first, because they provide the evidence base for the more complex cases. The investigation of the most obvious crimes generates links with the less obvious crimes. The overt actors and the evidence they provide can lead us to others who may also have been involved and this evidence can serve as a basis for other leads and investigative techniques, ”he said.
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