Seditious conspiracy

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Seditious conspiracy is a conspiracy to commit sedition. It is a federal crime in the United States per 18 U.S.C. § 2384:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

For a seditious conspiracy charge to be effected, a crime need only be planned, it need not be actually attempted. According to Andres Torres and Jose E. Velazquez, the accusation of seditious conspiracy is of political nature and was used almost exclusively against Puerto Rican independentistas in the twentieth century.[1] However, the act was also used in the twentieth century against communists (United Freedom Front),[2] neo-Nazis,[3] and terrorists such as the Provisional IRA in Massachusetts and Omar Abdel-Rahman.[4]


Since World War I, the federal government has won numerous seditious conspiracy cases against Puerto Rican independentistas, communists and others.[5]

Notable cases[edit]

  • In 1936, Pedro Albizu Campos, a Puerto Rican Nationalist, and nine others were charged with forcibly attempting to overthrow the Government of the United States in Puerto Rico and were jailed for 10 years in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In 1980, Puerto Rican Nationalist Carmen Valentín Pérez and nine other women and men were charged with seditious conspiracy for attempting to overthrow the government of the United States in Puerto Rico, and were each given sentences of up to 90 years in prison.[6]
  • Fort Smith sedition trial - Ten white supremacists were indicted for seditious conspiracy in 1987 for crimes in related to The Order and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. All ten defendants and four other defendants indicted for different crimes were acquitted in April 1988 after a two-month trial.
  • On 1 October 1995, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a prominent Muslim cleric, and nine others were convicted of seditious conspiracy.[7] They had been accused of terrorist plots in New York City.
  • On 29 March 2010, nine members of Hutaree were charged with seditious conspiracy.[8] Although two defendants were convicted of weapon charges, the court acquitted them of conspiracy due to the prosecution's reliance on circumstantial evidence.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andrés Torres and Jose E. Velazquez. The Puerto Rican movement: voices from the diaspora. Temple University Press. 1998. p. 238. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. ^ "After 9 Months of Delays, U.S. Tries 3 for Sedition". The New York Times. AP. 1989-01-12. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  3. ^ "Louis Beam" at Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website. Archived 2011-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Perez, Richard (2 October 1995). "A Gamble Pays Off as the Prosecution Uses an Obscure 19th-Century Law". New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  5. ^ Leonard Zeskind. Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream. pp. 144−171. Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2009.
  6. ^ ProLIBERTAD: ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995. May 29, 2013.
  7. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (2 October 1995). "The Terror Conspiracy—The Charges—A Gamble Pays Off as the Prosecution Uses an Obscure 19th-Century Law (Published 1995)". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Nine Members of a Militia Group Charged with Seditious Conspiracy and Related Offenses", press release, United States Department of Justice, March 29, 2010.
  9. ^ Guarino, Mark (March 27, 2012). "Hutaree militia acquitted of plot to foment revolution". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2021-01-19.


  • Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991)

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