Monday, May 09, 2016

Reporter with ties to militia groups, who covered Oregon occupation, is arrested with machine gun

A reporter who covered the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was arrested on Friday after a search of his home found a Browning M2, a .50 caliber machine gun, Les Zaitz reports for The Oregonian. Michael R. Emry (Oregonian photo by Mark Graves), a former weapons manufacturer who "described himself as an 'embedded' reporter with a militia group called 3% of Idaho ... was charged in a federal complaint of unlawful possession of a machine gun not registered to him and unlawful possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, the FBI said in a statement."

An affidavit, which said the machine gun could fire 550 to 650 rounds per minute, said "Emry admitted that he took the M2 from the shop where he works in Idaho about a month and a half ago," without the shop owner's knowledge, Zaitz writes. Emry was scheduled to appear in federal court today. A Facebook page controlled by Emry posted on Friday: "We don't know the charges—presumably it was because of the Malheur occupation. Michael was there as media and nothing more. For those of you who might think about cheering at the news, keep in mind that there are two issues involved here—freedom of the press and freedom of speech."

The 3% of Idaho group participated in a Jan. 2 rally in Burns hours before the refuge takeover, Zaitz writes. The group disavowed knowledge of the takeover, but its leaders were a regular presence throughout the 41-day occupation. The group at one point arrived at the refuge in a convoy of heavily armed members, who said they were there to shield the refuge occupiers from law enforcement. Occupation leaders sent them away." Emry's site also praised Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who is under criminal investigation by the state Justice Department about his dealings with the armed militants. 

Emry said "he was helping Grant County citizens establish a committee to investigate media reporting and, if necessary, conduct trial-like hearings on the accuracy of stories," Zaitz writes. "Emry earlier this week conducted a meeting of what he called the Committee of Correspondence, identifying three local residents who participated on the committee. County records show they all hold appointments from Palmer as special deputies—citizen volunteers." (Read more)

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