Oath Keepers leader sentenced to 18 years in prison for US Capitol riot

A US court has sentenced the founder of a far-right extremist group to 18 years in prison in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former US President Donald Trump.

The federal district court in Washington handed down the sentence for Stewart Rhodes on Thursday. US media say it is the heaviest punishment given so far to any of the more than 600 people found guilty of involvement in the riot.

Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, is accused of plotting to use force to overturn the election defeat of then US President Trump and obstruct a peaceful transition of power. He was convicted in November of last year on charges of seditious conspiracy.

The Justice Department said Rhodes sent a text to supporters stating, "We aren't getting through this without a civil war" and bought weapons with him in an attempt to occupy the Capitol.

Before handing down the sentence, the judge said, "You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country."

Rhodes remained defiant saying, "Like President Trump, my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country."

The court also sentenced three other Oath Keepers to prison terms ranging from four to 12 years.