Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers paramilitary group, was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for plotting to attack the US Capitol, the harshest sentence for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
“Subversive conspiracy is one of the most serious crimes an American can commit,” Judge Amit Mehta said in announcing the sentence.
“You are a constant threat and danger to this country,” Mehta told Rhodes, who led the Oath Keepers and took part in a gun-toting attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
“You’re intelligent, charismatic and persuasive, so frankly you’re dangerous,” Mehta said, rejecting Rhodes’ claim that he was a “political prisoner”.
The sentence was less than the 25 years the government had sought, although Mehta accepted the argument that the Oath Keepers’ plan to violently stop Joe Biden from becoming president amounted to terrorism.
Just before the sentencing, Rhodes, wearing an eye patch and an orange prison jumpsuit, brazenly defended his group and their actions in support of Trump.
“I am a political prisoner,” he declared, comparing himself to the famous Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “My only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country.”