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Viral Marine released from military jail ahead of possible-court martial hearing over his criticisms of military leaders

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller (LinkedIn screenshot)
October 05, 2021

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col Stuart Scheller, who gained viral attention for his videos criticizing military leaders over their handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, has been released from a military brig ahead of a hearing over whether he should face a court-martial for his critical remarks.

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, whose Pipe Hitter Foundation has been fundraising for Scheller, shared a statement from Scheller’s lawyers in an Instagram post on Tuesday, noting Scheller had been released from a military brig. Scheller had been taken to the brig and held for about a week after defying a gag order and sharing renewed criticism for military leaders, former presidents and military scholars.

“UPDATE from Stu’s Legal Team: ‘An IRO hearing was scheduled to review LtCol Stuart Scheller’s pre-trial detention at 1:30 pm today,” Gallagher wrote. “The Marine Corps refused to provide an open hearing or to record the hearing. Media outlets objected and asked that the hearing be delayed to allow for action in federal court. Prior to the hearing, the Marine Corps agreed to release LtCol Scheller pending trial by court martial.”

Scheller first earned viral attention for a video he made on the same day that 13 U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which was then being used as the evacuation point for Americans and Afghans leaving the country. In his original video, Scheller said, “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability and saying ‘we messed this up.’”

In a subsequent video, Scheller said he was seeking a way to bring charges against Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), for dereliction of duty.

Scheller had continued to criticize military leaders in other videos and social media posts before he was reportedly subjected to a gag order. In a September 25 Facebook post, Scheller criticized Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Generals James Mattis, David Petraeus, Michael Flynn, Julian Alford and Francis Donovan. Scheller also shared criticism of the military news publication Task & Purpose, as well as military academics.

In his September 25 post, Scheller acknowledged he had been ordered “to refrain from posting any and all material, in any form without exception, to any social media.” Scheller concluded his post by acknowledging he would face jail time for his remarks. “Col [David] Emmel please have the MPs waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I’m ready for jail.”

According to the statement from Scheller’s lawyers shared by Gallagher, Scheller has requested to resign his commission in lieu of a trial.

As of Tuesday, the Pipe Hitter Foundation has raised more than $2.5 million to assist Scheller with legal fees as well as emergency relief, family support, relocation and other financial support as Scheller faces the possible loss of his military benefits and a transition out of the military.