FBI still negotiating with armed occupants in Oregon

  • 31/01/2016
FBI still negotiating with armed occupants in Oregon

The FBI is still negotiating with four armed occupants at a remote federal wildlife refuge in Oregon while the holdouts in a video posted online say they are reluctant to leave.

One of the four protesters remaining at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge said in a darkly lit video posted on Friday that he wanted to be assured he would not be arrested if he left.

Others with him expressed similar resolve.

Tensions in the standoff remained high, four days after Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 54, a spokesman for the group that seized buildings at the refuge on January 2, was killed by police during the arrests of occupation leader Ammon Bundy and several other protesters as they travelled on a highway.

The FBI said Finicum reached for a gun during the confrontation, which was recorded on grainy video, but his family disputes that account.

In taking over the refuge, the protesters criticised federal control of vast tracts of land in a flare-up of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

"Negotiations are ongoing," FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said, declining to give details on the talks or comment on the video.

Bundy has issued messages through his lawyer urging those remaining at the refuge to stand down, and saying they would continue to fight through the courts.

But the holdouts at the refuge in the video, which they streamed live on YouTube, said they did not want to leave the site, which is 48km from the small ranching community of Burns in the state's rural southeast, and they expressed mistrust of the US government.