PORTLAND, OR -- A federal Grand Jury handed down indictments against Ammon Bundy and 15 others (click photo for complete list) connected with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy's attorney, Mike Arnold, told the judge it was wrong that his client wasn't in court for a Wednesday hearing. "Mr. Bundy put on the record today, through me, that he expects and requests to be at every single federal court appearance."
The judge said it wasn't necessary, because the indictments suspend previous court actions. Arnold said, "We find it terribly ironic that a judge ruled that he was a risk, on pre-trial release, to not attend court appearances. Then, while in custody of the government, he was prevented from attending today’s court appearance."
Indictments were unsealed Thursday morning and reveal the 16 defendants each face one count of Conspiracy to Impede Officers of the United States. According to the document, the group "knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed together ... to prevent by force, intimidation and threats, officers and employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ... from discharging the duties of their office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."
The indictment outlines accusations that the conspiracy began "on or about October 5, 2015" when "two conspirators traveled to Harney County, Oregon to warn the Harney County Sheriff of 'extreme civil unrest' if certain demands were not met." It notes that defendants "recruited and encouraged other individuals ... through social media and other means of communication, to participate and assist" in the conspiracy, beginning in November.
A group of armed militants took over the refuge on January 2, 2016. The indictment says the defendants' actions prevented federal officials from performing their official duties at the refuge "by force, threats and intimidation." The four people who remain at the refuge are among the 16 defendants named in the indictment.