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Elmer Stewart Rhodes, 9 other Oath Keepers plea not guilty to sedition charges

By Clyde Hughes & Julia Shapero, Medill News Service
Elmer Stewart Rhodes, 9 other Oath Keepers plea not guilty to sedition charges
Roger Stone (C) is escorted by security wearing hats of the far-right anti-government militia group 'Oath Keepers' after speaking at a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes and nine other members entered not guilty pleas to sedition charges in federal court Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Justice Department indicted 11 Oath Keepers members earlier this month. Edward Vallejo, the 11th Oath Keeper charged with seditious conspiracy, is expected to be arraigned Wednesday or Thursday, District of Columbia District Judge Amit Mehta said during the hearing.

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Charged with seditious conspiracy along with Rhodes and Vallejo were Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, Joshua James, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, Brian Ulrich and Thomas Caldwell.

Mehta set an April trial date for six of the Oath Keepers accused of the lesser charges in U.S. v. Crowl et al. and a July trial date for the seditious conspiracy case against Rhodes and the other 10 individuals.

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Prosecutors argued to a federal judge last week that Rhodes, who is in custody, should remain there through his trial.

"There is overwhelming evidence that Rhodes organized a plot to oppose by force the execution of the laws of the United States and that he possesses the willingness and capacity to continue to engage in criminal conduct," prosecutors said, according to The Hill.

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"Under these circumstances, only pretrial detention can protect the community from the danger Rhodes poses."

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Rhodes attorney Jonathon Moseley called the charges against his client a work of fiction.

"We know that the prosecutors know that what they claim is totally false," Moseley said, according to The Hill. "We have the documents. We have the videos. The prosecutors know that we know that they know that their narrative is a John Grisham novel, totally false."

Lawyers for the Oath Keepers told the judge that the April trial date does not allow them enough time to prepare, but Mehta said, "At some point these cases have got to go to trial."

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