A leading white nationalist will remain behind bars on charges of extortion and interstate threats after a hearing Thursday to determine he could be released was continued until next week.
Christopher Cantwell, who rose to prominence in 2017 after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, pleaded not guilty in January to federal charges that he threatened to rape the wife of a person with whom he was having a dispute. The indictment alleges that Cantwell threatened to injure another person if the victim did not provide him with personal information about an unidentified third party.
Cantwell has remained in detention ever since and his trial is set for March. His detention hearing will resume Tuesday.
In Thursday's hearing and in court filings, federal prosecutors argued Cantwell should remain in jail. Among the reasons was a history of “contempt for bail conditions,” his use of secure communication tools, his violent history and drug use.
Prosecutors, over the repeated objections of Cantwell's lawyer, focused much of the hearing on the allegations of violence and drug use. They including a Vice News documentary about Charlottesville that featured Cantwell talking about violence and an audio recording of him talking about taking methamphetamine and several other drugs.
They also said 16 weapons were seized from Cantwell's house in Keene when he was arrested and one from his car. They also cited a social media post in which Cantwell talked about bringing a gun to a showing of the movie “Joker.” The post, prosecutors said, was spotted by the FBI who alerted Keene police. Officers went to a theater showing the movie and found Cantwell, who had a gun. sitting by an exit. He was escorted out of the theater without incident and told police the post was a joke. It was unclear if any charges were filed in that incident.
Cantwell also pleaded guilty in 2018 to assault after he was accused of using pepper spray against two counterprotesters during the Charlottesville rally in 2017. Cantwell, who has hosted self-produced radio shows, also has a history of posting threatening messages over social media.