‘QAnon Shaman’ freed from federal prison months ahead of schedule

Jacob Chansley screams 'Freedom' inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jacob Chansley, better known by his nickname “QAnon Shaman,” has been released from federal prison and is currently residing in a halfway house in Arizona, a mere 16 months after he was convicted for participating in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack.

Chansley quickly became one of the most recognizable faces of the Jan. 6 event after images of him wearing horns, a fur headdress and American flag face paint while storming the U.S. Capitol building were circulated around the world.

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

Chansley, 35, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in November 2021 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of obstruction of justice. According to his lawyer, Chansley spent 11 months in jail before his conviction and served 16 months of his sentence before being released. In total, he’s spent 27 months behind bars, 14 less than his sentence stipulated.

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He was originally projected to be released from prison in July of this year, but federal records indicate he is currently at a “residential reentry management” facility with a release date of May 25. Federal prisoners can earn reductions to their sentences while incarcerated by demonstrating good behaviour.

“It is appropriate this gentle and intelligent young man be permitted to move forward with the next stage of what undoubtedly will be a law-abiding and enriching life,” said Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, following news of his release.

The Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that “for safety, and security reasons, we do not discuss the conditions of confinement for any inmate, including transfers or release plans, nor do we specify an individual’s specific location while in community confinement.”

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Chansley was one of nearly 1,000 people charged for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, when supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building as lawmakers certified then president-elect Joe Biden’s win.

The uniquely dressed rioter was seen as a figurehead of the event, and was one of a small subset of rioters to enter the U.S. Senate chamber, where he took pictures of himself on the dais and sat at the desk of the Senate president.

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Prosecutors said that Chansley left a note on the dais that read “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!”

Chansley’s case popped back into the public eye this month when Tucker Carlson’s primetime Fox News show aired a series of programs broadcasting exclusive Capitol riot footage. The programs faced criticism on both sides of the political aisle for depicting the Capitol attack as largely peaceful.

Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk retweeted a video of the rioter this month with the caption: “Free Jacob Chansley.” There’s no indication that the tweet impacted Chansley’s release from prison.


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