PORTLAND, Ore. -- Ammon Bundy, the leader of the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, took the witness stand in his own defense Tuesday.

He began his testimony by noting he’s spent the last eight-and-a-half months in jail.

He also spoke passionately about his family’s 138-year history of ranching near Bunkerville, Nevada.

Bundy spoke about trying to organize opposition and pass laws to keep the federal government from taking rights from what he considers his family’s land and the land of others.

“They’re too smart, too strong with too many resources. We’re begging the state to defend us,” said Bundy about the government.

It was one of many times he fought back tears. He pointed out that his effort to protect his family and land was failing.

“My dad and brothers are in jail right now, every one of them. It’s wrong! It’s wrong!” Bundy said.

The comments were made as part of the defense case arguing Bundy did not conspire to stop federal workers from doing their jobs, but rather he came to Oregon at the request of his father to help the Hammond family.

His father had asked Ammon to help the Hammonds. He said the government was abusing the Hammond family in a way similar to what they did to the Bundy family in 2014, according to Ammon.

Bundy said he initially resisted, then agreed to help because he felt a duty to help another ranching family.

“Exactly what I was feeling, why I left my family, my business, my orchard. It’s why I went to Harney County!” he said.