Christopher C. Cantwell, the Keene white supremacist who became nationally known after the violent 2017 demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., was arrested early Thursday on federal charges related to an alleged threat he made last year.
A two-count federal indictment dated Wednesday accuses Cantwell sending a vulgar, threatening message to someone on June 16 using the messaging app Telegram, in an attempt to extort personal identifying information about a man who goes by the online pseudonym VM.
Keene police Lt. Steven Tenney said federal law enforcement was in the area of South Lincoln Street in Keene overnight but did not have further details. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Concord did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cantwell rose to prominence after being featured in a Vice News documentary on the events surrounding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, which turned violent and resulted in the death of a protester, Heather Heyer, who was killed when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd.
Soon after, Virginia prosecutors charged Cantwell with several felonies alleging he assaulted counter-demonstrators with pepper spray the night before the rally. He later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of assault and battery and was sentenced to time served, plus suspended jail time.
The new federal indictment charges Cantwell, 39, with extortionate interstate communications and threatening interstate communications. Both charges relate to the alleged June 16 message.
The indictment indicates the alleged message crossed state lines, but does not describe what prompted the message or how Cantwell knows the alleged victim. According to the indictment, Cantwell appeared to threaten to sexually assault the person's wife in front of their children.
Cantwell, who has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views in his podcast, on his website, and elsewhere, has previously faced allegations of threatening in a civil suit that grew out of the Charlottesville violence.
After suing two people whom he accused of giving false statements to police about the night in question, they counter-sued him for $1 million, alleging he waged a campaign of online harassment against them, including posting their photos to a website above song lyrics about “gassing” Jews and transgender people.
This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that the indictment does not specify the alleged victim's gender.