Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, charged with seditious conspiracy following a two-month trial and has been found guilty of plotting to stop US President Joe Biden following his victory in the 2020 election.
The prosecutors accused him of plotting an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Rhodes went on trial with four others for offences committed during the January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill riots.
Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson went inside the Capitol Hill building during the attack. Meggs was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy and he
Three of the group - Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson - went inside the building during the attack. Meggs and Rhodes now face a maximum 20-year sentence on the charges.
Harrelson, Watkins and Thomas Caldwell were not charged with seditious conspiracy. All of them were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The prosecutors said Rhodes acted as “battlefield general" during the riots. He has been found guilty of tampering with documents or proceedings, the BBC said in a report but was acquitted on two counts of conspiracy. The jury gave the verdict after three full days of deliberations.
The prosecutors in the case accused the Oath Keepers’ members of stashing dozens of weapons in a hotel room in Virginia across the Potomac river in Washington DC. Text messages sent and received by Rhodes showed that he was urging those supporting the riots to “rise up in insurrection.”
Rhodes’ lawyers said they will appeal the convictions.
This is the first time in almost 27 years that convictions have been made for seditious conspiracy in the US. In 1995, 10 Islamist militants were convicted as they tried to plant bombs across important landmarks in New York City.
In 1954, four nationalists from US’ Puerto Rico fired shots onto the floor of the House of Representatives injuring several lawmakers, leading to successful seditious conspiracy convictions.
The law was first used to stop southern states’ citizens from fighting against the US government following the Civil War. For a person to be convicted under the said crime, the prosecutors must prove that more than two or two people conspired to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force” the government of the United States.
Members of the right-wing group Proud Boys will also go on trial later this year.
(with inputs from the BBC)
Read all the Latest News here