A veteran U.S. marine who criticized Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan is being held in pre-trial confinement in a North Carolina brig – and his mom is questioning whether he’s being treated as a political prisoner for criticizing the country’s military leadership.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, 40, has been locked away at the Camp Lejeune brig since Monday and is scheduled to make his first court appearance tomorrow.
He is being kept in an area normally reserved for suspected murderers, a source close to the case said.
Scheller was three years from retirement when he posted a scathing video criticizing his superiors on August 26, the same day that the 13 US troops were killed in Kabul.
He continued to post video Joint Chiefs chair General A. Mark Milley under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Camp Lejeune’s brig houses Marines awaiting trial and those with sentences of less than a year
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller has been at the facility since Monday for defying his boss’s orders
He was jailed after defying orders to stop posting commentary on social media, and he’s been accused by the military of breaking four laws, although he has not been formally charged.
Cathy Scheller, mother of the 40-year-old Marine, said she spoke to her son Monday during a two-minute telephone conversation, when he told her to ‘tell everyone’ his story.
‘He has not murdered anyone. You go through our whole list of reasons why he would be in prison, but speaking up isn’t one of them,’ she told Dailymail.com. ‘I’m going to get inflammatory here, but I’m wondering: Is he a political prisoner?
‘I don’t know. I’ve never thought of political prisoners in the United States.’
It’s not clear whether the Marine is confined entirely to his cell, which includes a bed, sink and reading nook
His mom, whose voice was raspy from lack of sleep, said she isn’t sure when she’ll be able to speak to her son again.
She was told it could be 14 days.
‘They cited 14 days before you begin to have a visitation,’ she said. ‘They are [attributing the reason to] COVID. I said, “I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but even for a phone call?” And she said well there’s also that also need to do the indoctrination on all of the rules and everything before it’s not allowed.’
The pre-trial holding facility was built in 2012 and offers numerous correctional programs, fitness training, and more
She said the family is experiencing a range of emotions while being kept in the dark about the case.
‘We go from a rage to anger to sad,’ she said. ‘The one thing we are not is calm.’
The Marines delivered a 640-page document to Scheller’s legal team today, though it’s contents were not immediately available.
The regional brig where Scheller is being kept houses pre-trial inmates as well those serving sentences of one year or less.
A source close to the case says Scheller is being treated ‘very well’ and that brig employees have been ‘respectful’
It’s not clear whether he’s allowed to spend time outside, where there’s a basketball court and workout equipment
Some employees have provided Scheller with some reading material, which is believed to include a copy of The Bible and a military history book.
The brig allows visitors on Saturdays, but when Scheller’s father tried to make an appointment, the voicemail was full.
His email has not yet been responded to.
His father said he’s doubtful Scheller will be released from the brig during a Thursday court appearance
Stuart Scheller Sr. said he does not believe his son will be released from jail following tomorrow’s court hearing.
‘They want to keep his mouth shut,’ he told Dailymail.com.
‘They are under fire from many, many people across the nation, and globe. And so, it will be very easy for them, I’m sure, in a 640-page document to rationalize and justify keeping him locked up.’
The brig at the Camp Lejeune base brig is not a pleasant place to be, said a man who once worked there.
‘If you murdered somebody or molested a kid, you are generally going to spend most of your time in special quarters in a cell staring out of window,’ Anthony Ricciardo said in a 2018 Reddit post.
‘Lukewarm food will be brought up to you and a library cart will brought around every now and then for you to pick out a book to read.’
One former employee says some prisoners are served ‘lukewarm’ meals at the North Carolina brig
The pre-trial holding facility was rebuilt in 2012, replacing a 44-year-old jail with the ‘latest and greatest features,’ the Marines said in celebrating its opening.
The Marines have touted the facility as having a range of correctional programs, fitness training, counselling, religious programming, and more.
It wasn’t clear whether Scheller has access to any of those programs due to COVID-19 protocols, although a source close to the case told Dailymail.com that he was being treated ‘very well.’
‘The people at the brig have been very respectful and very professional with him, and he has no complaints whatsoever – besides being in jail,’ the source said. ‘The people there have been very gracious.’
Scheller has not spoken to his family since Monday, when he made a brief phone call, asking them to make his story public
The Marines have a number of rules for visitors, and forbid a married woman from visiting an inmate if it’s not her spouse, or if she’s not accompanied by her spouse.
If a spouse is visiting, they’re permitted a ‘brief embrace and kiss at the beginning and end of the visit,’ and can hold hands in plain view of employees
Scheller ended up at the lockup after defying the superiors who were attempting to silence his public criticisms.
On Saturday, he posted a message that he said he had received from commanders, stating: ‘Effective immediately upon your receipt below, you are hereby ordered to refrain from posting any and all material, in any form without exception, to any social media.’
He went on to criticize several current and retired generals across the military service branches in a lengthy diatribe, concluding it with: ‘please have the MPs waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I’m ready for jail.’
A military charge sheet accuses Scheller of contempt toward officials, wilfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming of an officer or a gentleman.