Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers group, received an 18-year sentence Thursday for his role in the Capitol riot. As the AP reports, it's the longest sentence to date over the unrest on Jan. 6, 2021. The 58-year-old, who was convicted in January of seditious conspiracy, described himself as a "political prisoner" as he addressed the court before his sentencing. His only crime, he added, was opposing those bent on "destroying" the country. Prosecutors, who had sought a prison term of 25 years, say Rhodes was one of the leading organizers of the day's violence.
“You, sir," said Judge Amit P. Mehta, “present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country, to the Republic and the very fabric of our democracy," per the New York Times. The sentence suggests what several other members of the Oath Keepers and another far-right group, the Proud Boys, also convicted of seditious conspiracy, can expect. That group includes former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio. Lead prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy pointed out that Rhodes gave a jailhouse interview just days ago in which he continued to claim the 2020 election was stolen and called for "regime change."
In his own remarks, Rhodes, who has a law degree from Yale, compared himself to Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and to the main character in the Franz Kafka novel The Trial, notes the Times. “I am a political prisoner,” he said. The judge saw it differently. “What we absolutely cannot have is a group of citizens who—because they did not like the outcome of an election, who did not believe the law was followed as it should be—foment revolution,” said Amit, per CNN. “That is what you did.” (Read more Stewart Rhodes stories.)