A judge on Thursday ordered Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy returned to his home state to face charges from a famous 2014 armed standoff with federal authorities, while one of his sons accused the government of "overreaching."
"This is just a continuation of government trying to protect its own power, government taking land that does not belong to them from the people," Ammon Bundy, who is jailed in another standoff in Oregon and is also charged in the 2014 case, said in a message released by his attorneys.
Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and two other men were indicted Thursday by a Nevada grand jury on charges stemming from the armed confrontation with federal agents who seized Bundy's cattle over illegal grazing on public land.
The charges carry potential sentences of decades in prison and $3 million in forfeitures.
Cliven Bundy was arrested in Portland on Feb. 10 after flying to Oregon to visit his sons, who were arrested Jan. 26 in connection with the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
On Thursday, a federal prosecutor in Oregon asked that Cliven Bundy be transferred to Nevada to face the charges, and a magistrate judge ordered the move, according to court records.
The armed standoff at the Bundy Ranch began after federal agents seized cattle after Cliven Bundy refused to obtain permits or pay fees to graze the animals on federal land for more than 20 years, according to the indictment; he owes more than $1 million in grazing fees.
Hundreds joined the protest, which culminated April 12 in what the federal government called a "massive armed assault" to retake the approximately 400 head of cattle seized, according to the indictment. Federal officials backed off after gunmen set up on a bridge overlooking agents.
Ammon Bundy said in the message Thursday that the resistance was justified. He also accused federal agents of using a Taser stun gun against protesters and other abuses, and of restricting their First Amendment rights.
"This is a continuation of them overreaching — going far beyond their constitutional bounds and showing that they are willing to use the court system to prosecute people that were defending their rights; defending their property," Ammon Bundy said in the message.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy and the two other men charged in the 2014 Nevada standoff, Ryan Parker and Peter Santilli, are being held without bail in Oregon, where they face charges related to the occupation of the wildlife refuge.