US Capitol 'Shaman' release bid rejected

·2-min read

A federal judge has denied a bid by an Arizona man nicknamed the "QAnon Shaman" to be released from prison while awaiting trial on criminal charges stemming from the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

In a nine-page opinion, US District Judge Royce Lamberth said a defence lawyer for Jacob Chansley has "not provided any new information that has a material bearing" on whether he should be released from custody.

The ruling, which came out on the six-month anniversary of the riots at the US Capitol, marks a blow for Chansley, who is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation by the Bureau of Prisons to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Last week, Chansley's lawyer, Albert Watkins, argued that Chansley should be released from custody, saying new evidence showed the flag pole he was carrying could not be used as a weapon because the finial on top was attached with a zip tie.

Watkins also raised concerns about Chansley's mental state, saying the conditions inside the prison could be triggering and that he would be better served receiving treatment back home in Phoenix.

Chansley was famously photographed inside the US Senate Chamber wearing a horned hat, and is known for supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts former president Donald Trump as a saviour figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals.

He faces six criminal charges, including violent entry, and is one of more than approximately 500 defendants charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol by Trump's supporters.

"For better or worse, Mr Chansley has become an iconic image of January 6, akin to Nike's swoosh. An optics-driven world does not always yield justice," Watkins told Reuters.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a federal prosecutor in another Capitol riots case revealed that the government was poised to offer a plea deal to defendant Russell James Peterson, who faces four misdemeanour charges.

The FBI has said Peterson used his Facebook account to stream riot-related video from inside the Capitol.

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