Lt. Col. Stu Scheller -- the Marine officer who rose to fame for a viral video demanding accountability from military leaders for failures in Afghanistan -- has been released from the brig as his legal case moves forward.
In an email statement to Military.com, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger confirmed the officer was being released Tuesday "as a result of a mutual agreement between Lt. Col. Scheller, his defense counsel, and the commanding general, Training Command."
However, a source with knowledge of the situation said that Scheller remains bound by a gag order that bars him from social media. On Aug. 26, he posted a video that went viral of himself in uniform demanding accountability from senior military leaders following a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. troops in Afghanistan that same day.
Scheller's case now will move to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, to consider whether charges should be recommended to his command. Those potentially could include contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey lawful general orders, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
In the meantime, Scheller continues to pursue a deal that will let him avoid trial and walk away with an honorable discharge. According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Scheller has submitted a request for resignation of his commission in lieu of trial to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro; the source adds that "numerous" members of Congress have urged Del Toro to accept this request.
Military.com reached out to Del Toro's office for comment but was directed back to the Marine Corps.
Scheller has drawn support from members of Congress over the past week. On Sept. 29, more than 30 lawmakers wrote a letter to the Marine Corps commandant asking for Scheller's release. The letter argued that his brig sentence "appears to be simply for messaging, retribution, and convenience."
Many of the signatories to the letter are members of the House's far-right Freedom Caucus.
Scheller's original video called for ownership and accountability from senior leaders and responded directly to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger's letter to troops and veterans asking whether the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan was worth it.
After that, Scheller made more than 10 posts, including several videos that included the unofficial resignation of his commission and threats to "bring the whole f---ing system down."
He claimed to have made the posts despite advice from friends, family and lawyers. In Sept. 16 posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, he wrote that he would make a public recommendation of charges of dereliction of duty against Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.