Dozens of members of Congress have demanded the immediate release of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who was imprisoned for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Scheller, 40, was arrested and imprisoned Monday at the Camp Lejeune brig for allegedly violating four military laws by refusing orders to stop posting critical videos on social media.
Hearing for Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller delayed
He is scheduled to appear in court for the first time in North Carolina today at 3.30 p.m., but the public, including elected officials and the media, is not permitted to attend.
According to a source, both the Marines and the defense have agreed to the delay and are working on a joint resolution.
Scheller is requesting an honorable discharge, according to a source close to his legal team, because the gravity of his alleged offenses is insufficient to warrant a dishonorable discharge.
According to the source, Scheller did not even have time to enter the courtroom during today’s postponed hearing.
The non-partisan Justice Warriors Caucus, an official congressional group that advocates for service members who have been wrongfully imprisoned, is not pleased with the lack of transparency.
“We believe that the military is trying to do this behind closed doors without proper oversight,” Derrick Miller, executive director of the caucus, told Daily Mail. “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.”
According to a military spokesman, private proceedings are “standard for Initial Review Hearings.”
Dozens of congressmembers are calling for him to be released from the lockup
At least 36 members of Congress have signed a letter calling for Scheller’s release, as part of an effort led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who stated that the Marine’s detention “appears to be for messaging, retribution, and convenience.”
Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, Bill Posey, Buddy Carter, and Bob Good are among the signatories.
According to Gohmert’s letter to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Scheller’s commander is required by law to justify his detention within 72 hours.
“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.”
3 Congressmen ask for answers after Lt. Col. Scheller was put in the brig
Three congressmen have sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, asking for more information on the status of USMC Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller.
Representatives Greg Murphy, M.D. and Richard Hudson, both of North Carolina, along with Representative Brad Wenstrup of Scheller’s home state of Ohio, said they sent the letter to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro to inquire about the status of Scheller in response to “significant public concern.“
The letter asks the SECNAV to answer several questions:
- Have charges been preferred against Lt. Co.l Scheller?
- If so, when were those charges preferred?
- What articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is Lt. Col. Scheller accused of violating?
- What is the justification as to why Lt. Col. Scheller is in pretrial confinement?
- Why were lesser forms of constraint deemed not adequate?
- Has Lt. Col. Scheller been assigned legal counsel through Defense Service Offices (DSO)?
- Are you aware of whether Lt. Col. Scheller has been afforded the opportunity to obtain civilian legal counsel?
- Please clarify the schedule of when and where his hearings will be held.
The congressmen have also asked for a briefing from the appropriate USMC and/or Navy staff to discuss the situation.
Stuart Scheller criticized military leaders over Afghanistan
Scheller, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, was three years away from retirement when he posted a scathing video criticizing superiors on August 26, the same day 13 US troops were killed in Kabul.
Scheller said in the first of his viral videos: “The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down. People are upset because their senior leaders let them down. And none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed up.’”
He ripped into military and civilian leadership again in a Facebook post on Saturday, inviting commanding officers to throw him in the brig after being ordered to stop posting on social media.
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 Daily Mail.
“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 said. “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.”