The US Capitol rioter Jacob Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, has been released early from prison to a halfway house.
The 35-year-old was sentenced to 41 months in prison. Chansley pleaded guilty to charges of civil disorder, disorderly and disruptive conduct, violent entry to a building, and other counts at his November 2021 sentencing hearing. He was originally due to be released this July.
He has been moved to a “residential re-entry management” facility in Phoenix, Arizona, and is expected to be released on 25 May, according to prison records.
He received one of the longest terms handed down to any of the rioters.
Chansley – convicted of a felony count of obstruction – was one of nearly 1,000 criminal defendants charged in the 6 January 2021 riot, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers certified President Joe Biden’s election victory.
His lawyer, Albert Watkins, said in a statement that the early release of his client was “appropriate” and he should be “permitted to move forward with the next stage of what undoubtedly will be a law-abiding and enriching life”.
With his face paint, horns and bearskin headdress, Chansley – an aspiring actor – became the notorious face of the raid on the seat of American democracy as his picture was beamed around the world.
He recently re-emerged in the national spotlight after Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued the riot was mostly peaceful, airing footage of the self-styled QAnon Shaman wandering the halls of Congress with police officers either escorting him, or making no attempt to bar his way.
Federal prosecutors said Carlson had omitted key parts of Chansley’s actions.
Elon Musk is among the supporters of QAnon Shaman
Elon Musk had also thrown his support into the defense of QAnon Shaman in an effort to downplay the disruptive events of Jan. 6, 2021.
“Free Jacob Chansley,” Musk tweeted to his 130 million followers while sharing a video that appears to show Chansley telling protestors at the Capitol to go home and remain peaceful, adding in a separate tweet that Chansley was sentenced to four years in prison “for a non-violent, police-escorted tour.”
Chansley got 4 years in prison for a non-violent, police-escorted tour!?
Dave Chapelle was violently assaulted on stage by a guy with a knife. That guy got a $3000 fine & no prison time. https://t.co/qDRWxozD8B
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2023
In another tweet, Musk claimed Chansley “was falsely portrayed in the media as a violent criminal who tried to overthrow the state and who urged others to commit violence.”
“I’m not part of MAGA, but I do believe in the fairness of justice,” he added.
Chansley’s alias was a reference to a baseless conspiracy theory whose adherents believe former President Donald Trump was waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
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