- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

A federal grand jury has indicted 16 people on conspiracy stemming from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, including four people still holed up at the property.

The indictments, handed down Wednesday and unsealed Thursday, could complicate negotiations with the four remaining holdouts, given that they have called on the FBI to release and not charge them in exchange for their surrender.

The indictments accuse the 16 people, most of whom are being held in custody in Portland, of conspiring to “prevent by force, intimidation, and threats, officers and employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the Department of the Interior, from discharging the duties of their office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”

Among those charged are brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who led the armed takeover Jan. 2 as a protest against federal public-lands policy and the sentencing of two Harney County ranchers to five years’ imprisonment for a prescribed burn that spread to federal land.

Previously, two of those indicted met with the Harney County sheriff and warned that there would be “extreme civil unrest” unless their demands were met, according to the indictment.

An estimated several dozen protesters held the previously unoccupied refuge headquarters building until Jan. 26, when 11 were arrested and others dispersed following a confrontation on Highway 395 with law enforcement that left one occupier dead.

One occupier, Jon Ritzheimer, turned himself in later that day to authorities in Phoenix, Arizona.

Named along with the Bundy brothers and Mr. Ritzheimer are Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox, Peter Santilli, Jason Patrick, Duane Leo Ehmer, Dylan Anderson and Kenneth Medenbach.

The four who remain at the refuge and were also indicted are Sean Anderson, David Lee Fry, Jeff Wayne Banta and Sandra Lynn Pfeifer Anderson. The Andersons are a married couple.

An arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 24. Many of those in custody are appearing this week for detention hearings in U.S. District Court in Portland.

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