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White nationalist from New Hampshire pleads not guilty to making rape threat

  • FILE - This undated booking file photo provided by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail shows Christopher Cantwell, of New Hampshire. Cantewell was to be arraigned Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Concord, N.H., on federal charges of threatening to harm the wife of a person with whom he was having a dispute in June 2019. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP, File)

Associated Press
Published: 1/23/2020 10:12:51 PM
Modified: 1/23/2020 10:12:42 PM

CONCORD — A leading white nationalist pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that he threatened to rape the wife of a person with whom he was having a dispute.

Christopher Cantwell, a New Hampshire resident who rose to prominence in 2017 after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., is accused of using the Telegram messaging app to make the threat on June 16, 2019. The person with whom he was messaging hasn’t been identified.

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.

The FBI tweeted that it arrested Cantwell, of Keene, on Thursday morning without incident. He faces charges of extortion and sending interstate threats and was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Concord.

Cantwell, dressed in a camouflage top, black pants and sneakers, pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered him held in federal custody at least until a detention hearing Tuesday.

Neither side provided further details in court. Cantwell’s lawyer, federal public defender Eric Wolpin, would not comment after the hearing.

Cantwell is set to go on trial March 3, and prosecutors said it could take four days.

Cantwell pleaded guilty in 2018 to assault after he was accused of using pepper spray against two counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Cantwell, who has hosted self-produced radio shows, also has history of posting threatening messages over social media.

In March, he wrote that he thought the Gab social media platform had banned him for a post after the deadly New Zealand mosque shootings in which he wrote, “I’m pretty sure it would be against the rules for me to say that would be mass shooters should find left wing activists and gun them down instead of random people in mosques and synagogues. So I won’t do that.”

Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a nonprofit organization funding the lawsuit stemming from the Charlottesville rally, welcomed the indictment.

“Today’s indictment describes only a tiny fraction of Cantwell’s horrifying track record of violence and bigotry,” she said in a statement. “Cantwell must face the consequences for his many other violent actions.”

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