PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The leader of an armed group that took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon will stay behind bars after a federal judge called off a court hearing Tuesday to give his attorneys more time build their case.
Ammon Bundy’s attorneys asked for time to gather evidence to show Bundy had intended the occupation to be a “peaceful protest and civil disobedience.” They had wanted the judge to allow Bundy to go home to Idaho with a GPS monitoring device and orders that he not leave the state except for court appearances.
Meanwhile, there was no word from the four occupiers still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. The holdouts, who have been negotiating with the FBI, had been posting frequent video updates online, but nothing has appeared on the YouTube channel “DefendYourBase” since Sunday.
They have said they refuse to leave without assurances they will not be arrested — despite Bundy’s calls for them to go home.
Bundy is among 11 people arrested in connection with the standoff that began on Jan. 2, when the group called federal land restrictions burdensome and demanded the government turn over public lands to local control.
All face a felony conspiracy charge of using intimidation to prevent federal employees from their work at the refuge. Only one of those charged, Shawna Cox, has left jail.
Bundy and four others were arrested Jan. 26 during a traffic stop, where police shot and killed Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during a confrontation.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman still was scheduled to decide whether to free two other members of the armed group, Joseph O’Shaughnessy and Peter Santilli, ahead of their trials. A detention hearing also is set in Phoenix for Jon Eric Ritzheimer, a suburban Phoenix resident.
Bundy was denied release last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman, who said he posed a danger to the community and might fail to return to Oregon for court proceedings.
While Bundy has asked the four holdouts to go home, his father insists the occupation is legitimate. Cliven Bundy sent a certified letter Monday to the local sheriff saying all federal and state police should be removed from the area and the refuge should be placed under local control.
The elder Bundy was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
The holdout occupiers said in their final video that Cliven Bundy was encouraging them to stay, and they agreed.
“He’s telling people to keep fighting, and that’s the absolute truth,” a speaker believed to be occupier David Fry said. “It’s a fight that’s going to keep going.”
Ammon Bundy’s attorney has said Bundy didn’t recognize Fry’s name and that he wasn’t a core member of the group. The other remaining occupiers are Jeff Banta and married couple Sandy and Sean Anderson.
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