LAS VEGAS — Federal prosecutors in Las Vegas want are asking a judge to cancel a hearing at which jailed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy would seek to be freed pending trial on charges he led an armed standoff against government agents two years ago.
Bundy's lawyer, Joel Hansen, said Wednesday he's fighting a contention that Bundy is only entitled to only one detention hearing, and that he should remain in custody indefinitely.
"They don't want to let him out because he dared to challenge the federal government and said Nevada owns the land," Hansen said. He cast Bundy, 69, as a political prisoner being illegally held for challenging government authority.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and prosecutor Steven Myhre noted in written filings submitted Tuesday that a federal magistrate judge in Oregon denied Bundy's release following his Feb. 10 arrest at Portland International Airport. Bundy didn't appeal that order, the prosecutors said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl Hoffman in Las Vegas is due to consider the question of whether the detention hearing should be held just ahead of the scheduled Thursday morning court session.
It wasn't clear Wednesday whether Bundy's appearance would again draw protesters to the courthouse in Las Vegas.
About 100 Bundy backers demonstrated outside last week while Bundy appeared in custody and refused to enter a plea to charges including conspiracy, assault, obstruction and threatening federal officers.
Hoffman entered a not-guilty plea on Bundy's behalf.
Hansen said Bundy's refusal to enter a plea amounted to a statement that he couldn't have done anything wrong because federal law doesn't apply.
Bundy and four of his adult sons are among 19 people indicted this month on allegations that they incited and organized a gunpoint standoff that stopped federal agents from rounding up cattle near Bundy's ranch in April 2014. Convictions could result in penalties up to life in prison.
Bundy denies U.S. government authority in Nevada, and insists he's free to let his cows roam over rangeland around his 160-acre cattle ranch and melon farm in Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Federal BLM officials said in 2014 that he owed more than $1.1 million in fees and penalties for grazing hundreds of cows illegally for about 20 years in the scenic and ecologically fragile Gold Butte area.
His arrest in Oregon came while he was on his way to visit sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy in jail. They were arrested Jan. 26 on charges that they led a 41-day armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon. Twenty-six people face federal charges in that case, including several who also face charges in the Nevada standoff.