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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

FBI Continues Draconian Crackdown on Capitol Dissidents; Roger Stone’s Bodyguard Arrested

'Why am I being targeted here? Why aren’t you going after Antifa and Black Lives Matter members?'

(Headline USA) Two men wanted in the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol were arrested over the weekend, including one who reportedly served as a bodyguard to former president Donald Trump’s longtime political confidant Roger Stone, federal authorities said Monday.

Roberto Minuta allegedly breached the Capitol grounds and “aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers” during the protest, the FBI said in court papers.

Also arrested over the weekend was Isaac Steve Sturgeon, 32, of Dillon, Montana, who is charged with shoving a metal police barricade into police officers during the insurrection, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Jacob Chansley—aka the QAnon Shaman—who sported face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns while inside the Capitol during the siege, will remain jailed until trial, a judge in Washington ruled Monday. Chansley, who lives in Phoenix, also goes by the alias Jake Angeli.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth explained that Chansley carried a spear into the Capitol, ignored orders from police to leave, used a bullhorn to encourage other rioters and was among the first rioters into the building.

Chansley doesn’t fully appreciate the severity of the charges against him, Lamberth said. The judge said he has no faith that Chansley would follow release conditions.

That has been the case with several of the participants—some as young as 18 or as old as 70—who have been caught in the FBI dragnet after demonstrating their First Amendment rights during the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote.

Democrats and some GOP opponents subsequently impeached Trump for allegedly inciting the violence at the concurrent Save America Rally, although they failed to meet the Senate threshold to convict.

More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes—raising accusations of a double-standard given the many left-wing riots that have taken place in recent years—including at the Capitol.

Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, New Jersey, had been “equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers,” the FBI said, referring to the far-right antigovernment militia.

The New York Times identified Minuta as one of six people who provided security to Stone in the hours before the assault on the Capitol. Stone, who was pardoned after his sentence for several felony charges was initially commuted by Trump, was in Washington the day of the assault but has denied any involvement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti told a magistrate judge in White Plains federal court that Minuta was among Oath Keepers who provided freelance security in Washington for “various high-profile individuals who I won’t name.”

Minuta, who was arrested at his tattoo shop in Newburgh, New York, told federal agents “something to the effect of: ‘Why am I being targeted here? Why aren’t you going after Antifa and Black Lives Matter members?’” Gianforti said.

The prosecutor said the statements suggest “a lack of remorse for his actions and an ongoing allegiance to the ideology that led him to break the law.”

He accused Minuta of “screaming at Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 and indeed spitting at their feet, which is one of the most disrespectful gestures that one can do.”

Gianforti said Minuta had cancelled his phone account on March 1 and gotten rid of his iPhone while moving between a Texas dwelling and his New York business.

Ben Gold, Minuta’s court-appointed attorney, said his client was not violent on Jan. 6. A magistrate judge agreed, letting him be freed on $150,000 bail despite the prosecutor’s request he be held as a danger to the community and risk to flee.

“He’s not a flight risk. He’s not a danger to the community,” Gold said.

The lawyer said a criminal complaint describing the charges say Minuta entered the Capitol forcefully, but yet the description afterward “doesn’t say he used an ounce of force.”

Authorities said Sturgeon, the Montana man, was identified through police body camera video and photographs posted to social media.

The FBI said Sturgeon, who owns a lawn care business, traveled to Kenya on Jan. 24 and was deported from that country to New York. He was arrested Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Sturgeon told a federal magistrate Monday he “wasn’t trying to flee,” adding he’s a frequent traveler.

His defense attorney declined to comment on the charges.

Prosecutors said Sturgeon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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