Ryan Bundy, charged in the federal case surrounding the takeover of a wildlife refuge, denied the escape attempt and said he was practicing braiding rope
Ryan Bundy, a protester who helped lead the Oregon militia standoff, attempted to escape jail with a rope made of bedsheets, federal prosecutors alleged in court on Monday.
The incarcerated rancher, however, denied that he was attempting to break out of jail in Portland and said he was simply trying to practice braiding rope.
Bundy, 43, is one of 26 protesters charged in the federal case surrounding the January takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in rural Harney County and is scheduled to face a trial in September.
Along with his brother Ammon Bundy, Ryan led a group of activists in an armed occupation of the federally controlled bird sanctuary in eastern Oregon to protest government land-use rules and restrictions against ranchers.
While some have pleaded guilty, the Bundy brothers have continued to argue that the federal government has no right to control public lands and have said they plan to bring their case forward in a trial.
In a pretrial hearing on Monday in court in Portland, federal officials accused Ryan of attempting to escape Multnomah county jail, disclosing that deputies found the inmate on 8 April with torn sheets braided together under his mattress, the Oregonian reported.
Prosecutors said that deputies also found two strips of torn sheets, extra pillowcases, towels and unauthorized food containers.
Bundy responded that he was a rancher trying to practice braiding rope, adding: Its self-serving speculation and simply not true, your honor, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Steve Alexander, spokesman for the Multnomah County sheriffs office, confirmed to the Guardian that deputies had found 12ft to 15ft of rope made out of some torn sheet, along with other contraband.
Ryan also had a chair in his cell, which he was not authorized to have, Alexander said.
The spokesman said the inmate faced an administrative write-up for the violations, but did not face criminal charges for attempted escape.
He has not faced any disciplinary actions for the rope incident in the Oregon jail, according to Alexander.
The US attorneys office, which is prosecuting both cases against the Bundys, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about the escape attempt allegations.
Angie Bundy, Ryans wife, who brought their eight children to court on Monday, said by phone that the accusation that he was planning to escape was really stupid.
I guarantee he wasnt thinking he was going to break out with a sheet, said Angie, who said she hasnt had a chance to discuss the issue with her husband.
When youre sitting in a cell for that many hours, you get inventive It was definitely him passing the time, she said, adding, [The prosecutors] have been making all kinds of serious charges and outright lies this whole time.
The Bundy brothers and their father have repeatedly complained about jail conditions, arguing that they have been denied internet access and the right to gather for prayer and raising concerns about the use of solitary confinement.
In March, in an unusual move, Ryan decided to represent himself in court and waived his right to counsel.
The men are facing a slew of charges, including using force, intimidation and threats to conspire against and impede government officials. If convicted, they could face decades in prison.