Byon January 10, 201
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday suggested a judge expand a protective order that now prohibits people charged in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge or anyone on their defense teams from sharing the FBI's reports on its informants.
Calling it an "extraordinary case,'' the prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown to add language to her order that forbids both "direct and indirect violations - wherever they may occur.''
Prosecutors are concerned that Gary Hunt, a California man tied to a network of militia groups, has obtained FBI reports on 15 informants used by the agency during the refuge takeover and that Hunt is sharing excerpts in online blog posts. Last week, the prosecutors urged the judge to order the 70-year-old to remove the posts and hand over the FBI documents.
Hunt has refused to do so, arguing that he's not a party to the federal conspiracy case or on the defense teams -- and therefore isn't bound by the protective order.
Brown asked prosecutors to state in writing what authority the court has to order a third party to follow the protective order and how she could do so without giving the person a chance to be heard. She also asked how she could order someone outside Oregon to follow the order.
Hunt has denied working with any of the defendants' defense teams, but did say he wanted to identify informants used in the case to help in the upcoming trial.
Prosecutors further argued that the judge has the power to stop the actions of someone who isn't a party to a protective order when they "aid and abet'' others involved in the case to violate the court's order.
Hunt countered, "Aiding and abetting from what I recall is a cooperative effort between two parties. They can't even identify the other party.''
Prosecutors have argued that the material - 246 pages of redacted reports - is under protective order to shield the informants from harm. The reports detail what informants told FBI agents leading up to and during the 41-day occupation. The informants aren't named in the reports, but Hunt has identified a handful of people who appear to fit descriptions in the documents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamala Holsinger acknowledged that Hunt should get an opportunity to be heard before the judge takes action, whether holding him in civil or criminal contempt of a court order or imposing other sanctions.
But she pressed for a court injunction directing Hunt to remove all postings on the informants immediately. She also argued that the judge has the power to issue such an injunction even if the person is outside Oregon.
In a separate development, Oregon standoff defendant Jon Ritzheimer, who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge but has asked to withdraw his plea, recently posted a video on Facebook that he took of himself confronting the friend of an informant at his workplace.
Ritzheimer wrote that as he was visiting the retail shop, "I decided to confront this low life Federal informant lover who was giving me dirty looks as I shopped.''
"I'm going to hunt every single one of you guys down and call you out,'' Ritzheimer can be heard saying on the video.
-- Maxine Bernstein