Jan. 6 riot defendant returned to jail for using internet
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday ordered a prominent participant in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to return to jail after he was caught accessing the internet to watch false conspiracy theories about the presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said that Doug Jensen, 42, of Des Moines, Iowa, had violated the strict conditions that were set when he released Jensen from jail on July 13, including prohibitions on accessing the internet and using a cellphone.
Kelly ordered marshals at the federal courthouse in Des Moines, where Jensen attended Thursday’s hearing, to immediately take him into custody as he awaits trial.
Prosecutors had moved to revoke Jensen’s pretrial release on Aug. 19, days after a federal officer found Jensen in his garage using an iPhone to watch news from Rumble, a streaming platform popular with conservatives.
Jensen acknowledged that he had earlier watched two days of the cyber symposium sponsored by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who used the event to push false theories that the presidential election’s outcome was changed by Chinese hackers.
Kelly noted that he had released Jensen from jail on July 13 after Jensen claimed he had an awakening behind bars and realized the QAnon conspiracy theory to which he adhered was a “pack of lies.” The judge said he put in place the strict conditions, including the internet ban, because Jensen had previously spent years following online conspiracies and acknowledged he had become a “true believer” and “digital soldier.”
Kelly said it was significant that Jensen’s violations were caught during the first unannounced visit to his home by pretrial services officers.
“It’s now clear that he has not experienced a transformation and that he continues to seek out those conspiracy theories that led to his dangerous conduct on Jan. 6,” Kelly said. “I don’t see any reason to believe that he has had the wake-up call that he needs.”
Kelly said it was unlikely that Jensen would be able to follow any other conditions of release barring internet use and that he had lost confidence in Jensen’s wife to serve as his third-party custodian. Prosecutors contended that she had facilitated his violations by leaving the phone on when she left for work.
Jensen’s attorney, Christopher Davis, had asked the court to give his client another chance, likening Jensen’s internet use to an addiction. He argued that Jensen had complied with other release conditions, including staying home on electronic monitoring and avoiding drug use, and that his violations in no way endangered public safety.
He said his client acknowledged the violations but said that it was “Orwellian” for the government to seek to jail a man who was sitting in his garage listening to the news.
Jensen was among the first people to enter the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, crawling through a broken window. On Thursday, prosecutors cited new video evidence to claim he was also among the last to leave over an hour later, scuffling with officers on his way out.
He told investigators he positioned himself as one of the riot leaders because he was wearing a shirt promoting QAnon and he wanted the theory to get the credit. Jensen was widely photographed during the attack.
Jensen had a knife in his pocket when he led a crowd of people toward Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who was by himself and had only a baton. The crowd chased Goodman up a flight of stairs toward the Senate chamber as Jensen ignored Goodman’s orders to stop and put his hands up.
Before his July release, Jensen had spent six months in jail after he was arrested Jan. 8. He faces the prospect of years in prison, and lawyers on both sides said Thursday they were unsure if the case could be resolved in a plea or would go to trial.
Jensen is charged with seven counts, including aggravated assault, obstruction of a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder, unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct.
Another Jan. 6 defendant who subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory has agreed to plead guilty, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man who sported face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns during the riot, is scheduled to plead guilty on Friday.
The charge to which he intends to plead guilty hasn’t been publicly revealed. He faces felony charges of civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding, as well as four misdemeanor counts.
Chansley, who called himself “QAnon Shaman,” has since repudiated the QAnon movement and asked that there be no more references to his past affiliations with the movement, his lawyer, Albert Watkins, said Thursday.
Associated Press reporter Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report from Phoenix.