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US Capitol riot: 'QAnon Shaman' pleads guilty

Jacob Anthony Chansley could face up to 51 months in prison over the January 6 unrest at the US Congress. He has since turned his back on the QAnon conspiracy theory, his lawyer said.

Chansley is seen with the US flag painted on his face while sporting a fur hat with horns, shirtless

Chansley has been a fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies in 2020

An Arizona man who became one of the most recognized Capitol Hill rioters pleaded guilty on Friday to obstructing a US congressional meeting.

A mob of supporters of former US President Donald Trump had broken into the Capitol building on January 6 to try to stop Congress certifying Joe Biden as the new president.

Known as the "QAnon Shaman," Jacob Anthony Chansley was caught on camera shirtless, carrying a spear and sporting a horned fur hat during the violence. It became one of the images synonymous with the infamous day. 

He has been a subscriber to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory blamed for fueling the unrest. 

What happened at the hearing?

Speaking by video link to the US District Court in Washington, Chansley admitted to "disorderly and disruptive conduct" when he obstructed congressional proceedings and threatened officials.

His lawyer, Albert Watkins, asked the court to be lenient. "Mr Chansley has zero criminal history, we do know that he was not a planner, he was not violent," Watkins said.

After spending eight months in prison, Chansley expressed regret at what he had done and apologized to anyone he had scared throughout the unrest, Watkins said.

Chansley's lawyer also said his client has since repudiated the QAnon movement and asked that there be no more references to his past affiliations with the movement.


Chansley is seen in front of a police officer outside the Senate Chamber

Chansley was taken into custody on January 9

Chansley told the court he had "mental vulnerabilities," although psychiatric professionals had certified Chansley was competent to stand trial before the case.

Sentencing was scheduled for November 17. He could face 41 to 51 months in prison, according to guidelines estimated by the prosecution. 

Watkins also asked the court that his client be released from detention pending sentencing — a request that Lambert said would be considered.

Watch video 02:27

Capitol riot probe shifts focus to possible conspiracies

What do we know about the 'QAnon Shaman'?

Chansley, also known as Jacob Angeli, is among some 600 people charged over the Capitol unrest.

He was seen in images using a bullhorn to spark up the crowds. He posed for pictures in the building while calling former Vice-President Mike Pence a traitor. 

He was also photographed holding a "Q Sent Me!" sign at previous QAnon rallies.

Prosecutors said that at the Senate dais, he wrote on a piece of paper to Pence: "It's only a matter of time, justice is coming."

jc/fb (AFP, AP, Reuters)