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Refuge Occupier Pete Santilli Earns Release, But Will Stay In Jail For Now


Pete Santilli, an Internet radio host and strong advocate of the armed occupation near Burns, Oregon, led a demonstration outside the FBI's makeshift headquarters there.

Pete Santilli, an Internet radio host and strong advocate of the armed occupation near Burns, Oregon, led a demonstration outside the FBI's makeshift headquarters there.

Conrad Wilson/OPB

A federal judge ordered that Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier Pete Santilli be released from pre-trial detention Monday. Despite that order, he won’t be released anytime soon.
 
At the hearing, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown agreed with a pre-trial services recommendation that Santilli, an Internet radio host from Ohio, be released to a halfway house as long as he receives a mental health evaluation and follows any recommendations.
 
However, Santilli will remain in custody in Multnomah County because he has been charged elsewhere, too. Santilli is facing felony charges in Nevada related to a 2014 armed standoff between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management.
 
To gain release in Oregon, Santilli would first need to win a detention hearing related to the Nevada charges.
 
“As a practical matter he’s not actually going to be released, he’s going to be sent to Nevada to go thorough this procedure down there,” said Tom Coan, Santilli’s attorney. “It’s a long a complicated process, but one that he’s willing to go through.”
 
The government is asking for a trial in Oregon to take place in 2017.
 
“We don’t want him spending a year in jail that we don’t think he deserves,” Coan said
 
Monday was Santilli’s third time trying to obtain release. He was arrested Jan. 26 outside a makeshift FBI headquarters near Burns, Oregon.
 
Defense attorney Tom Coan argues Santilli is an independent journalist, and did not take part in the Oregon occupation beyond that role. Earlier this month, the ACLU of Oregon made a statement publicly supporting Santilli’s rights to free speech.
 
Santilli is the host of his eponymous Internet radio show. He broadcasted hundreds of hours of the occupation from Harney County.

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