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Five-time Olympic medallist appears in US court over Washington riot

Klete Keller competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.

Image: Thomas Kienzle

A FIVE-TIME Olympic swimming medallist charged with participating in a deadly riot at the US Capitol last week has been released from custody but ordered to stay away from Washington DC until after Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

Klete Keller, who lives in Colorado, appeared during a brief hearing in Denver federal court following his arrest on charges brought by prosecutors in Washington.

The 38 year-old competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. He won two gold medals and a silver as a member of the 800-metre freestyle relay, as well as a pair of individual bronzes in the 400m free.

At the insistence of prosecutors, Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty said Keller could not travel to Washington before 21 January.

After that, Keller is allowed to travel to Washington for court appearances and to meet his lawyers but he must ask for permission for future visits to see his children in North Carolina after a trip already scheduled for this weekend.

Keller did not have to pay money to be released but promised to appear at future court hearings and comply with other standard conditions, including not possessing firearms.

Keller was charged on Wednesday in federal court in Washington after a video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the Capitol last week.

Screenshots from the video were included in a court document charging him with knowingly entering a restricted building to impede an official government function, disorderly conduct, and obstructing law officers.

Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol during a joint session of Congress on 6 January while politicians met to formalise the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

Keller’s alleged participation in the Capitol protest was first reported this week by SwimSwam, a site dedicated to covering competitive swimming and other aquatic sports.

It pointed to video posted to social media by Townhall reporter Julio Rosas, which showed a tall man wearing a US Olympic team jacket among the rioters as officers attempted to clear the Rotunda.

SwimSwam said at least a dozen people within the sport have identified the man as Keller after reviewing the video and screenshots.

Meanwhile, a Delaware man who was photographed carrying a Confederate battle flag during the riot has also been arrested.

Federal prosecutors said Kevin Seefried was arrested in Delaware along with his son Hunter Seefried.

2.57540424 Source: PA Images

Prosecutors said both men entered the Senate building through a broken window.

They were charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and degradation of government property.

Court documents say the men were identified after the FBI was told by a co-worker of Hunter Seefried’s that he had bragged about being in the Capitol with his father.

The pair were part of a larger group that verbally confronted members of the Capitol police over a 15-minute period and were spotted on surveillance video, according to the documents written by an FBI special agent.

Another man from Arkansas was also accused yesterday of beating a police officer with a pole flying a US flag during last week’s riot.

An FBI agent said Peter Francis Stager was seen in video and photographs striking a prone police officer repeatedly with the flagpole after rioters dragged the officer down the Capitol’s west stairs.

Confidential informants had recognised Stager in a video and photographs and alerted authorities, who have charged him with interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder.

A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Little Rock, Arkansas said Stager was in custody on Thursday.

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