FBI reportedly had up to eight informants in the Proud Boys on Jan 6

The FBI had up to eight informants in the Proud Boys for several months around the time of the insurrection on January 6, 2021, court documents have shown.

The presence of the informants was revealed in a number of legal filings by defence lawyers for five members of the far-right group,The New York Times reported. They’re scheduled to go to trial next month on charges of seditious conspiracy in connection to the Capitol attack.

In partially redacted documents, the lawyers alleged that part of the information that confidential sources had given to the authorities was helpful to them in their work to defend their clients against the charges and that it was wrongly withheld by prosecutors until some days ago.

The defence quoted a sealed filing by prosecutors, in which they said that hundreds of pages of documents connected to the FBI sources weren’t “suppressed” by the authorities and that it wasn’t relevant to the case of the five group members charged – former leader Enrique Tarrio, as well as Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola.

It’s unclear what the sources told the authorities because the information is still under a protective order.

The revelations come after the news that the FBI also had a source close to the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes.

The Oath Keepers is another far-right group that took part in the Capitol riot.

Attorneys for Mr Rhodes and four other members of the group who are on trial for sedition were planning to call the source, Greg McWhirter – the former vice president of the group – as a witness for the defence, thinking that his testimony would help their case.

But the night before he was set to appear, Mr McWhirter had a heart attack and the defence called other witnesses instead.

Concerns about the informants have included why they weren’t able to warn the government that the siege on the Capitol was imminent or to confirm allegations afterwards that the groups had been planning the attack.

Former FBI staffers have said that there could have been gaps in what analysts told agents to ask informants.

It’s still not clear what the FBI asked its informants in the Proud Boys and how much attention was paid to the actions taken by the group to damage the legitimacy of the 2020 election as January 6 drew near.

Court documents seen earlier suggest that a number of Proud Boys had been recruited by the FBI before the 2020 election to give information about their opponents in Antifa, The Times noted.

Despite claims made by right-wing figures and media outlets, there’s no evidence that the bureau that any role in the Capitol riot.

But the Proud Boys’ attorneys have claimed that the information that the secret sources gave to prosecutors seems to be exculpatory and could go against the main allegation levelled by the authorities – that their clients travelled to the US capital on January 6 with a premeditated plan to lay siege to the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the ascension of Joe Biden to the presidency.

Daniel Hull, the lawyer representing Mr Biggs, said in a Monday legal filing that the recently publicised material questions “whether a Proud Boy conspiracy plan to obstruct the Biden-Harris vote certification or to commit sedition ever existed or could have existed”.

If there was a premade plan to break into the Capitol or if the violence was spontaneous will be one of the main sticking points in the trial, which is scheduled to begin on 12 December.

Prosecutors have to prove that the defendants knowingly agreed to employ the use of force to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after Mr Biden’s 2020 election victory.