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24 Jun, 2023 04:54

InfoWars host pleads guilty in Capitol riot case

Hundreds of people have been charged for storming the halls of Congress to protest the results of the 2020 election
InfoWars host pleads guilty in Capitol riot case

InfoWars host Owen Shroyer has pleaded guilty to illegally entering a restricted area during the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, acknowledging he took part in the chaotic scene while maintaining that he never set foot in the building.

Shroyer accepted the guilty plea in a legal filing published on Friday, agreeing that he breached multiple closed-off sections of the Capitol grounds alongside InfoWars chief Alex Jones, a misdemeanor offense. He is said to have rallied other rioters during the incident, and at one point stood atop the Capitol steps to lead the crowd in chants.

While the conspiracy-minded commentator initially said he attempted to deescalate the situation, prosecutors rejected that argument, noting that Shroyer was heard shouting “death to tyrants” and calling for revolution while at the Capitol. 

Shroyer’s defense also maintained that he had traveled to the event as a journalist, and that the government was violating his constitutional right to “protest, speak freely and report the news.” 

“The First Amendment permits and protects the rights of individuals to assemble and engage in demonstrations that confront and criticize the government, even when those demonstrations become rowdy or unruly,” defense attorney Norm Pattis wrote.

The prosecution similarly dismissed that reasoning, saying Shroyer’s “claimed status as a journalist does not immunize him from criminal prosecution.”

The case against Shroyer was unique in light of a previous deferred prosecution deal in a separate case, related to a 2020 incident in which he interrupted a congressional hearing. Under the agreement, he pledged not to use “loud, threatening, or abusive language, or to engage in any disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place upon the United States Capitol grounds.”

While Shroyer still awaits his sentencing, trespassing on a restricted building or grounds can carry a penalty of up to one year behind bars, without aggravating factors. 

The host of ‘The War Room With Owen Shroyer’ is the number-two on-screen personality at InfoWars, alongside longtime conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has not faced any charges over the January 6 riot. Both have alleged widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, claiming the race was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested and charged in relation to the Capitol riot, leading to around 600 guilty pleas and 100 convictions, according to the Justice Department. Those facing legal consequences range from militia members accused of conspiracy, to so-called ‘MAGA Moms’ whose only crimes involved walking into the Capitol to snap selfies.