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A courtroom sketch of Stewart Rhodes at trial
Rhodes testified at his own trial earlier this monthImage: Dana Verkouteren/AP Photo/picture alliance
Rule of LawUnited States of America

US: Oath Keepers head guilty of sedition for January 6 role

November 29, 2022

Stewart Rhodes and an aide were found guilty of "seditious conspiracy" for their roles in the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. Three other members of the group were acquitted.


American far-right Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes was found guilty on Tuesday of "seditious conspiracy" along with one lieutenant, Kelly Meggs, for their roles in the US Capitol riot on January 6 of last year.

They are the first people in nearly three decades to be tried and found guilty of the Civil War-era charge.

Over the two month-long trial, the US Department of Justice argued the Oath Keepers "concocted a plan for an armed rebellion" and those at trial were involved in "plotting to oppose by force the government of the United States."

Rhodes and Meggs were tried alongside Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell. They were the first of nearly 800 people arrested for their involvement in the January 6 attack to be put on trial for such serious offenses.

All five were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding but the latter three were acquitted of the sedition charges.

Oath Keepers discussed 'insurrection'

During the trial jurors were presented with video featuring members of the militant group marching in formation into the Capitol in full tactical gear in an effort to block the certification of Joe Biden as president of the United States.

The jury also heard how Rhodes discussed the prospect of a "bloody" civil war and warned that his followers may have to "rise up in insurrection" to defeat Biden. 

The charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Rhodes to appeal

The Oath Keepers' lawyers accused prosecutors of twisting their clients' words. They insisted that the group only went to Washington to provide security for key Trump allies.

One of Rhodes' lawyers, Ed Tarpley, said the verdict was a "mixed bag" and "not a total victory for the government in any way, shape or form."

"We feel like we presented a case that showed through evidence and testimony that Mr. Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy," the lawyer said.

Another lawyer, James Lee Bright, said Rhodes intends to appeal the ruling.

Rhodes himself testified that it "was not part of our mission" to enter the Capitol building but admitted that a number of Oath Keepers nevertheless went "off-mission."

zc, js/ar (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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