PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Independent journalist Pete Santilli will wait for trial on charges he conspired to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in jail, despite arguments that he was there only to report the news.
Even though Santilli's "history and characteristics don't favor detention," U.S. District Chief Judge Michael W. Mosman found that it was too risky to release Santilli to home detention in Cincinnati - not because he might run, but because he "might not come peacefully when the U.S. Marshals knock on his door."
"It's not a risk of flight," Mosman said at Thursday's hearing in Federal Court. "It's that he might stay put and shoot it out."
Santilli's lawyer, Thomas Coan, said the judge based his decision on anti-government statements Santilli made on his YouTube talk show rather than on documented behavior that shows Santilli is a person who complies with orders from police.
"This doesn't pass the smell test," Coan said. "What the government says are dangerous are his words."
Coan told Courthouse News that the American Civil Liberties Union had contacted him, wanting to get involved in what Coan characterized as a constitutional battle.
"They have reached out to me," Coan said. "They want to help. There are a lot of people who see this new-media journalism as being attacked. Not just here in Portland but also out in Baltimore during the riots and in Ferguson. The new-media journalists were the ones particularly that were getting in the government's face and being loud and difficult for them. And these are the ones that they are trying to muffle."
Representatives for ACLU Oregon said they couldn't comment on Santilli's case.
Mosman said several of Santilli's statements on "The Pete Santilli Show" showed he could pose a threat to the U.S. Marshals who would be responsible for supervising him if he were released on home arrest.
He pointed to two episodes where he said Santilli "expressed with some seriousness that no one is going to take him away."
Discussing no-knock warrants on the show, Santilli said he would shoot anyone who came through his door in the middle of the night.
"Make sure you knock or I'm gonna blow your balls off," Santilli said. "Especially the FBI. Why don't you go figure out who killed JFK or something like that?"
Santilli said on his show that he is always armed and would rather kill or be killed than let himself be arrested.
"You could catch me on the freaking potty," Santilli said. "I'll have my 9 mm next to me. Come at me in the grocery store and try to handcuff me. You better be Tasing me in my balls. Because I'm gonna die a free man. It's guaranteed."
Santilli also said on his show that he had buried his unregistered guns in California to avoid surrendering them under a restraining order that was later dismissed.
"Somebody I let into my bunker in California who knew I had a lot of guns filed a false restraining order because in California you have to turn in your guns if there's a restraining order against you," Santilli said. "Luckily, I keep my stuff buried. I'm not gonna be at the mercy of the system. So eff you, California."
Santilli raised a middle finger to the camera.
Later in the same episode, Santilli said the statement was just a joke.