Dozens of congressmembers have demanded the immediate release of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller after he was jailed for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing the nation’s Afghanistan withdrawal.
Scheller, 40, was arrested and jailed at the Camp Lejeune brig Monday for allegedly breaking four military laws by refusing orders to stop posting critical videos on social media.
He’s scheduled to make his first court appearance in North Carolina today at 3.30pm, but the public – including elected officials and the media – are prohibited from attending.
The lack of transparency isn’t sitting well with the non-partisan Justice Warriors Caucus, an official congressional group that advocates for service members who’ve been unjustly incarcerated.
‘We believe that the military is trying to do this behind closed doors without proper oversight,’ Derrick Miller, executive director of the caucus, told Dailymail.com. ‘There’s nothing that prohibits people from being admitted to this court procedure.
‘The fact that they’re trying to do this behind closed doors should be concerning to every American.’
A military spokesman told Dailymail.com that private proceedings are ‘standard for Initial Review Hearings.’
At least 36 congressmembers have signed a letter calling for Scheller’s release in an initiative led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who said the Marine’s imprisonment ‘appears to be for messaging, retribution, and convenience.’
Among the signatories are Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar and Bob Good.
At least 36 congressmembers, including Rep. Paul Gosar (top left), Rep. Louie Gohmer (top right), Rep. Lauren Boebert (bottom right) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (bottom left) are calling for Scheller’s release
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said Scheller isn’t the one who belongs in prison.
‘Joe Biden and the military leaders who abandoned Americans in Afghanistan, armed the radical Islamic terrorist Taliban, and caused 13 military members to be killed should be in prison,’ she tweeted.
Added Rep. Lauren Boebert: ‘Release Col. Lt. Scheller!’
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was jailed in a North Carolina brig Monday for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing US’s Afghanistan withdrawal. He has served in the Marines for 17 years
A secret hearing will determine whether he can be released from Camp Lejeune confinement (pictured)
Rep. Louie Gohmert says his imprisonment ‘appears to be for messaging, retribution, and convenience.’ The brig is pictured
Scheller’s commander is obliged under law to reasonably justify his imprisonment within 72 hours, Gohmert said in his letter to Marine Corps. Commandant Gen. David H. Berger.
‘Given his excellent record and more than 15 years of dedicated service, we do not believe and have seen no evidence that LTC Sheller poses a grave risk of criminal misconduct,’ Gohmert wrote.
‘For the aforementioned reasons we request that LTC Scheller be released from pretrial confinement and be housed in the least restrictive form of housing.’
At least 36 congressmembers have signed a letter calling for Scheller’s immediate release
Scheller, based in North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, was three years from retirement when he posted a scathing video criticizing superiors on August 26, the same day that the 13 US troops were killed in Kabul.
After being ordered to stop posting on social media, he again tore into military and civilian leadership in a Facebook post on Saturday, inviting commanding officers to throw him in the brig.
Justice Warriors Caucus’s Derrick Miller says the case should be concerning to every American
Miller highlighted the optics of Scheller being jailed despite no Americans being held accountable for the August 26 ambush, or a more recent US drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including children.
‘I think that there are a lot of frustration and with this process in general, if look at what happened during the Afghanistan withdrawal and the service members who unfortunately lost their lives and the families who will never see their loved ones again,’ he said.
‘There was never any high-ranking official who was in charge of the withdrawal held responsible. We just recently saw a drone strike that killed all civilians that was initially touted as a military success, yet no one was held responsible.’
He added: ‘But when you look at the Lt. Col. Scheller and other cases where you have someone was directly impacted or raised an issue with the command’s conduct, they are automatically slapped with charges or deprived of their freedom behind closed doors, where people can’t see what’s going on.’
Colonel Maura M. Hennigan, director of the Marine House Liaison Office said in an email obtained by Dailymail.com that the pretrial initial review hearing will be conducted by ‘a neutral and detached military magistrate.’
‘These proceedings are not typically open to the public and do not involve witness testimony,’ Hennigan said in the email. ‘The military magistrate will evaluate whether continued pretrial confinement is necessary, by considering multiple factors.’
A source close to the case says Scheller is staying in an area of the brig normally for murderers
Scheller’s mother questions whether he’s being treated as a ‘political prisoner’ for speaking up
It’s not clear whether Scheller is allowed to spend time at the jail’s outdoor area, which has gym equipment and a basketball court
Considerations include: the nature and circumstances of the suspected offenses, the weight of evidence, Scheller’s local ties to the community, his character and mental state, and service record.
The court will also consider the likelihood of flight, and whether Scheller is likely to ‘commit further serious criminal misconduct’ if freed, she said.
Stuart Scheller Sr., the Marine’s dad, said he does not believe his son will be released from jail.
‘They want to keep his mouth shut,’ he told Dailymail.com.
‘They are under fire from many, many people across the nation, and flocked up.’
Cathy Scheller, his mom, has questioned why he’s receiving such hash treatment despite not harming anyone.
‘He has not murdered anyone. You go through your 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.’
‘The people at the brig have been very respectful,’ to Scheller, a source says
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.
He is being kept in an area normally reserved for suspected murderers, a source close to the case said.
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.’
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.
Scheller’s father said he’s doubtful he will be released from the brig
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.’