PORTLAND, Ore. — Refuge occupier Jake Ryan will remain in a Portland jail pending trial despite assurances from a Montana sheriff that he would keep an eye on him if returned to that state.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak said Thursday he might have granted pre-trial release had Ryan surrendered last month after learning that a grand jury had returned an indictment against him. Instead, Ryan became a fugitive until his arrest Tuesday in Clark County, Washington.
“The fact that you went into hiding — into hiding armed — causes me great concern,” Papak said.
Ryan, 27, of Plains, Montana, was one of more than two dozen people charged because of their involvement in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The men and women were protesting U.S. land restrictions and the imprisonment of two ranchers who started fires.
Ryan traveled to Oregon in January with four firearms and served as a guard.
His attorney, Jesse Merrithew, asked the judge to let Ryan return to Montana pending trial. He stressed that Ryan has no criminal record, and Sheriff Tom Rummel of Sanders County fully supported having Ryan return to Plains, something he wouldn’t want if Ryan were a problem.
Merrithew said the sheriff told him that if Ryan ran, “he would track him down himself.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel countered that Rummel is a friend of Ryan’s family, failed to find him during the month he went into hiding and is not entirely cooperative with federal law enforcement. “If he’s released, law enforcement is unlikely to find him again,” Gabriel said.
Ryan was arrested after a landowner called to report a trespasser in rural Clark County, Washington. An officer found the young man sleeping in a shed, a loaded gun nearby.
Merrithew said Ryan ran because of fear, because others were giving him bad advice and because he wasn’t getting clear information about what he was facing. “He is motivated to fight this case and does not want to run,” Merrithew said.
Ryan has pleaded not guilty to charges of with federal conspiracy to impede officers, possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon in a federal facility and degradation of government property.
The prosecutor told the judge that Ryan could be a danger to federal law enforcement if released because he has anti-government views.
According to Gabriel, Ryan filed a stolen property report against the FBI after learning agents confiscated three weapons he had hidden in a trailer at the refuge. Moreover, after Tuesday’s arrest, he told agents transporting him to Portland that he couldn’t believe they agreed to work for such a tyrannical agency.
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