Prosecutors drop charge against Peter Santilli in Oregon standoff case

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Federal prosecutors dropped a federal conspiracy indictment against a self-described independent broadcaster who was present at the standoff at a remote Oregon national wildlife refuge earlier this year.

Peter Santilli was the lone person of eight defendants set for trial this month who never stayed overnight at the  Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, and his attorney argued much of the material he broadcast was protected under the First Amendment.

In a motion filed late Tuesday afternoon, federal prosecutors urged the court to dismiss the indictment against Santilli. He faced a charge of conspiring to impede U.S. Interior Department employees at the refuge through intimidation, threats or force.

Prosecutors said some evidence against Santilli was excluded in a pretail ruling.

Santilli, also facing indictment in Nevada stemming from the April 2014 armed standoff with federal officers near Bunkerville, Nevada, will remain in custody but be transferred to Nevada to face the charges in that case.

The trial for the other defendants in the Oregon standoff, including Ammon Bundy, begins Wednesday.


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