BURNS, Ore. (AP) – The latest on armed people who have taken over a federal building at an Oregon wildlife refuge (all times local):
An Oregon sheriff says the father-and-son ranchers convicted of setting fire to federal grazing land have reported to prison.
Harney County Sheriff David Ward said Monday that Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, turned themselves in at 1:37 p.m. and were at a federal correctional facility in California. He provided no other details.
The Hammonds were convicted three years ago of starting fires that burned federal land in 2001 and 2006. The men served their original sentences – three months for Dwight and one year for Steven. But an appeals court judge ruled the terms fell short of minimum sentences that require them to serve about four more years.
An armed group is occupying a remote Oregon wildlife preserve, saying the Hammonds were treated unfairly. Ward urged the group to disperse peacefully.
A spokesman for the armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon says it wants authorities to look into claims that local ranchers have been intimidated by the federal government.
Ammon Bundy – one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights – told reporters on Monday that two local ranchers who face long prison sentences for setting fire to land have been treated unfairly.
Bundy spoke at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon. He says the group calls itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and has sent a “demand for redress” to local, state and federal officials. They want a response within five days. Bundy didn’t say what the group would do if they didn’t get a response.
Reporters have seen roughly 20 people at the remote national facility.
The White House says President Barack Obama is aware that an armed anti-government group has taken over a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon and hopes it can be resolved peacefully.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a Monday briefing that the administration’s concern is for the safety of federal employees at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge but that none of them is in danger.
He says the FBI is monitoring the situation and offering support to local law enforcement.
The armed group came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to contest the prison sentences of two ranchers who set fire to federal land, but their ultimate goal is to turn over the property to local authorities so people can use it free of U.S. oversight.
An attorney for two Oregon ranchers whose impending prison sentences led an armed group to take over a national wildlife refuge says they will seek clemency from the president.
Kendra M. Matthews, a lawyer for Dwight and Steven Hammond, said Monday that the father and son will ask President Barack Obama to pardon them. They were convicted of arson for setting fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006 and served some prison time.
A judge said in October that their terms were too short and ordered them back to prison. Matthews reiterated that the Hammonds intend to surrender Monday to begin serving their terms.
Their sentences have been a rallying cry for the group who say they ultimately want to turn over the refuge land to local authorities so people can use it free of U.S. oversight.
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