Federal prosecutors in Oregon are attempting to block a self-described antigovernment “Patriot” blogger from continuing to publish names of individuals he contends were FBI informants during last year’s standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
FBI agents last Thursday served Gary Hunt, of Los Molinos,, Calif., with a “cease and desist” letter signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamala Holsinger, the criminal chief for the District of Oregon. Hunt, 70, has published an antigovernment patriot newspaper since 1993 and a patriot-militia blog since 2009.
The letter alleges Hunt has published “excerpts” of investigative material, protected from public dissemination by a judge’s order. Only defense attorneys were permitted to see the secret FBI reports, with informants’ names redacted, under terms of the judge’s protective order. It is unclear how Hunt obtained the material.
Hunt immediately posted the federal prosecutor’s letter and related documents on his web site, along with a new post proclaiming that he “has no intention” of complying with the federal government’s demand that he remove the material within 24 hours.
The next step, which the Justice Department may pursue, would be to seek a federal order demanding Hunt remove the material. If he still refuses, he could then be found in contempt of court and subject to arrest.
A jury in October found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five other defendants not guilty of charges associated with conspiring to occupy the Malheur refuge and preventing federal employees from working there. Hunt traveled to Burns, Ore., during the occupation, but was not among those indicted.
During the trial, it was disclosed that the FBI had nine informants inside the refuge during the occupation and six others working in undercover capacities, but all weren’t publicly identified.
While the prosecutor’s letter doesn’t mention the specific material, an accompanying affidavit identifies the material as confidential FBI reports detailing the work of its informants, called “confidential human sources” by agents.
“Public dissemination of the material produced under this Court's Protective Order could threaten ongoing investigations and the safety of government confidential human sources, informants or others,” Holsinger wrote in her letter.
In the affidavit, an FBI agent said, “Based on my experience with this investigation, I know some of the defendants in this case and individuals associated with the defendants in this case have advocated for violence against federal employees, law enforcement, and/or informants.”
The affidavit refers to a video found on the cell phone of defendant Jason Patrick following the arrest of Ammon Bundy and the death of occupier Robert LaVoy Finicum at a police roadblock. The video shows occupiers who remained at the refuge angered by the turn of events.
During that meeting, the affidavit says an “individual stated to the group "(Let's) regroup, get in, go find out who works for the Feds and start executing them. Execute them, their families, everyone. Make it a statement. If you work for those crooked fucks you're going to die.”
Patrick and six other remaining defendants are scheduled to stand trial beginning Feb. 14 in U.S. District Court in Portland.
In the lead-up to the trial, Hunt has published assorted blog posts, beginning in November, identifying at least eight individuals he claims were working as FBI informants. The FBI agent’s affidavit, identifying the “confidential human sources” only by their initials, seems to give credibility to Hunt’s claim.
“If exposing government spies that spy on the people is criminal, then I confess to that crime,” Hunt said in a blog post on Friday. “If, however, We, the People, have a right to know what our government is doing, then the Court on Oregon is criminal.”