Employee of defense contractor faces charges in Capitol riot
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe man who works for a defense contractor faces criminal charges for his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.
Authorities say Matthew Martin, who holds a security clearance, told the FBI in an interview that he had gone to Washington after reading then-President Donald Trump’s tweets about election fraud claims and acknowledged he was inside the Capitol building during the attack.
The FBI said Martin claimed Capitol guards opened the doors for people to walk into the Capitol rotunda and he later realized that the events at the Capitol were worse than he initially thought. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request Friday for the name of Martin’s employer.
Martin’s attorney, Dan Cron, said his client isn’t affiliated with any extremist groups and didn’t commit any violence or vandalism or carry a weapon while inside the Capitol.
Martin was inside the building for less than 10 minutes, didn’t do anything to rile up others and exited after he saw police forming a line to force people out,” Cron said.
“The purpose of his trip was to exercise his First Amendment right to freedom of expression peacefully,” Cron said.
Martin is the third New Mexican to be charged in the events surrounding the Capitol riot.
Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, who is also founder of the group Cowboys for Trump, was arrested after he was captured on video on the Capitol steps during the attack.
Griffin’s lawyer has said his client didn’t enter the building. Griffin has denied allegations that he knowingly entered barricaded areas with the intent to disrupt Congress as it considered Electoral College results.
Shawn Bradley Witzemann of Farmington told authorities he was inside the Capitol during the riot as part of his work in livestreaming video at protests and has since claimed he was there as a journalist, according to court records.
Authorities said Witzemann, who takes part in a podcast called “The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism,” walked into the Capitol, made his way to the building’s rotunda and shot video with his phone until an officer told him to leave.