(LifeSiteNews) — Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, has been sentenced to a 22-year jail term for his role in the January 6 protests. He told The Gateway Pundit on Friday that he could have received less time if he complied with federal agents who wanted him to falsely admit he helped coordinate the day’s events with President Donald Trump.
Tarrio and three colleagues were convicted by a jury of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the United States government. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, handed down the ruling. His punishment is the longest so far of any of the 1,100 January 6 detainees.
According to Vox.com, more than 100 January 6 protesters have been sentenced to at least two years in prison. Twenty-seven are serving more than five years behind bars.
Proud Boys is a nationalist organization started by VICE Media founder Gavin McInnis in 2016. Exclusively male, it seeks to counteract the growing influence of left-wing groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
The 39-year-old Tarrio was not in Washington, D.C. on January 6, but prosecutors successfully argued that he organized and directed Proud Boys members to “attack” the Capitol via social media and other text messages.
Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters after the verdict was read that “the Justice Department will never stop working to defend the democracy to which all Americans are entitled.”
During his interview with The Gateway Pundit last Friday, Tarrio claimed that Biden administration lawyers tried to coerce him to confess that he was strategizing with then-President Trump about how the protests were going to happen.
“The truth is … I could have been home a long time ago … laughing at the world, without a problem,” he said. “All I had to do in order to do that was lie about Trump. All I had to do was confirm a lie.”
“I told them to pound sand, and because I refused to lie about President Trump, it cost me 22 years of my life.”
Other January 6 defendants who have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms include Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes (18 years) and Seattle Proud Boys leader Ethan Norman, who was also given 18 years. At least three others have received 12 or more years in jail.
FBI special counsel Jack Smith is also seeking to convict President Trump on sedition charges. Conservatives argue that the Biden administration has weaponized the intelligence agencies against his political opponents and is unjustly persecuting Trump for expressing his First Amendment-protected objections to the certification process of the 2020 presidential election.