June 8, 1996 in Idaho

Freemen Resume Fbi Negotiations

Associated Press

The freemen returned to the negotiating table a day after four among them left their compound, and a senior official said Friday the defections will delay, for a while, further FBI pressure tactics.

Two freemen joined two FBI negotiators at a card table that has stood vacant on a dirt road at the edge of the freemen compound since May 21, when the last talks fell apart.

One was identified as Edwin Clark, widely recognized as a leader of the 17 people remaining on the sprawling ranch.

Clark had met alone with the FBI at a small country church a mile outside the compound the past two days, but this meeting took place at the entrance to what the freemen call Justus Township.

It lasted about 30 minutes, and the freemen returned to the compound.

The negotiating session came a day after Gloria and Elwin Ward left the compound with Gloria Ward’s two children, Courtnie, 10, and Jaylynn, 8. Gloria Ward was wanted on a Utah state charge of felony custodial interference, but authorities there agreed to drop the charge if she left the compound.

Some suggested the departure of the young children signaled that aggressive moves by the FBI might be in the offing. Others said the departure was a step toward a peaceful resolution of the 75-day standoff.

In Washington, a senior official said the emergence of the Wards and the children will postpone, at least temporarily, further steps by the FBI to tighten pressure on the anti-government fugitives.

The FBI wants to see what might be accomplished before turning to those pressure tactics, according to the official, who requested anonymity. Among those steps were electronic jamming of cellular telephone, television and radio signals at the freemen ranch “in order to generally isolate them,” the official said.


© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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