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Bundy: Refuge takeover was 'right,' 'duty of the people'

UPDATE: Carol Bundy releases letter from son saying he is a 'political prisoner'

TRIBUNE PHOTO: ROB KERR - Ammon Bundy, who faces a federal charge in connection with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, says in a recorded statement that the refuge takeover was the duty of the people to protest government bullying.A few hours after he was indicted in federal court for his part in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover, Ammon Bundy of Idaho said in a recorded statement that the four-week occupation was “right” and a “needed action.”

Bundy’s nearly 2-minute statement was posted on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page. In it, Bundy says he was being held in solitary confinement at the Multnomah County Detention Center and calls for Oregon State Police and the FBI to leave Harney County.

“Go home Oregon State Police. You have already killed enough,” Bundy says. “Go home FBI.”

The statement was in contrast to another Bundy recorded a few days ago asking the remaining four holdouts at the wildlife refuge to leave the compound peacefully. That and a written statement read by his attorneys with nearly the same message were the only things Bundy has said about the occupation of the refuge compound that began Jan. 2.

Bundy and 15 others — including four people still holed up at the refuge — were indicted Wednesday, Feb. 3, in U.S. District Court for their part in the takeover and occupation by about two dozen armed militants calling themselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. Bundy and other leaders of the occupation were arrested during a Jan. 26 traffic stop on Highway 395 about 20 miles north of Burns, while they were driving to a community meeting in John Day.

During the traffic stop, 54-year-old Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot to death by Oregon State Police when he refused to surrender.

In a separate letter released Thursday, Feb. 4, by Ammon's mother, Carol Bundy, he writes that law enforcement took action against the group because it was spreading its message across the West. Ammon Bundy wrote that he and others planned to talk with ranchers and others in several Oregon counties in January and February. Meetings also were planned in Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

"Government officials knew that if they did not take preemptive forceful action to stop the expanding influence of the refuge, many would begin to stand for land rights as protected by the United States' Constitution," Ammon Bundy writes. "Make no mistake about it: Those that were educating at the refuge are now suffering in jail at this time are political prisoners."

'End efforts with force'

Bundy came to Harney County in November to protest the legal treatment of ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, who are serving five-year sentences for setting fire to federal land. Bundy said government officials used the prison sentences to bully the Hammond family.

He justified the refuge takeover as a necessary action to draw attention to the plight of the Hammonds and other ranchers in the county.

“Taking over the refuge was not only right, it was the duty of the people to do,” Bundy says in the recorded statement. “When government officials are acting in contrary to the people, they must not get away with it. The takevover of the Malheur refuge was a needed action to show government officials that the people will not be complacent when they prosecute and bully good families like the Hammonds.

“Government officials chose to end our educational efforts with force, and it appears that they intend to do it again.”