Olympic champion Klete Keller charged over US Capitol invasion

The 38-year-old was part of the relay team – alongside Michael Phelps – in 2004 and 2008

US swimmer Klete Keller smiles after winning the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay swimming heat at the National Aquatics Center in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photo: Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images

US swimmer Klete Keller smiles after winning the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay swimming heat at the National Aquatics Center in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photo: Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images

 

Olympic swimming champion Klete Keller has been charged over the invasion of the US Capitol by a pro-Donald Trump mob last week.

The 38-year-old won two relay gold medals as a teammate of Michael Phelps at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Charges of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in the Capitol building and impeding law enforcement were filed against Keller in a Washington DC court on Wednesday.

A number of people who saw videos of the Capitol invasion identified a tall man in a US Olympic team jacket as the 6ft 6in Keller. The man in the video was part of a crowd being pushed towards the exit of the Capitol by police. He did not appear to be acting violently.

“We respect private individuals’ and groups’ rights to peacefully protest but in no way condone the actions taken by those at the Capitol last week,” a spokesperson for USA Swimming told the Guardian on Wednesday, before the charges against Keller were announced.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland did not name Keller in a statement released on Wednesday, in which she condemned the Capitol violence.

“As many of you know, there are reports of an alumni Olympic athlete involved in the horrific acts at the US Capitol building last week,” read the statement. “I strongly condemn the actions of the rioters at the US Capitol. They do not represent the values of the United States of America or of Team USA.”

Keller deleted his social media accounts earlier this week and is yet to comment on the allegations against him. Swimming website SwimSwam reported that prior to the deletion, Keller had written several posts in support of Trump.

In recent years, Keller has spoken about his struggles to adapt after his swimming career ended, but he had been working as a real estate firm, Hoff & Leigh recently. The company this week said they no longer employed Keller.

“Hoff & Leigh supports the right of free speech and lawful protest,” the company wrote in a statement. “But we cannot condone actions that violate the rule of law.”

On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice, after he incited the mob to invade the Capitol. Trump baselessly claims he lost the presidential election because of voter fraud.

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of last week’s violence. – Guardian

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