The four remaining militiamen occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are negotiating with the FBI, and have said publicly that they will only surrender if they receive a guarantee that they will not be arrested.
“If Obama can release five terrorists, ISIS-supporting terrorists, for one treasonous prisoner, then of course any deal is possible,” one militiamen said in YouTube livestream broadcast from the wildlife refuge on Saturday, apparently referring to the swap of Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay that freed Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from five years of militant captivity in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2014.
Tensions in the standoff remain high four days after Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a spokesman for the armed group that seized buildings at the refuge in early January, was killed in an operation that led to the arrests of occupation leader Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, and four others as they traveled on a nearby highway. The FBI asserts that Finicum reached for his gun during the incident, and released video footage of the encounter that shows Finicum fleeing police in a pickup truck, swerving into a snowbank to avoid a roadblock, and exiting his vehicle before being shot.
Ammon Bundy has issued messages through his attorney urging those remaining at the refuge to stand down, saying they would continue to fight through the courts.
In the Saturday livestream, titled “Response to Ammon Bundy,” an unidentified militiamen could be heard talking as the camera focused on a small campfire. He referenced Finicum’s death and said “the fight is going to keep going.”
“A lot of people feel like LaVoy — he can’t speak here now — but a lot of people feel like he was a man that was a coward or anything, and he stood his ground, and so let’s not let his death be in vain, let’s not let this event be trampled over,” the militiaman said, adding that the idea of the occupation was that “everybody was supposed to hold their ground.”
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