A Militiaman's Foiled Great Escape or a Rancher Tying a Rope?

Ryan Bundy, famous for the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was caught in his cell with a 15-foot rope he made from braiding sheets.

Ryan Bundy (Rick Bowmer / AP)

Updated on July 19 at 3:50 p.m. ET

NEWS BRIEF A federal judge in Oregon has ordered Ryan and Ammon Bundy, who led the standoff to take Malheur National Wildlife Refuge away from the federal government, to remain in custody during the trial, partly because of a possible escape attempt.

In his decision Tuesday, Judge Robert E. Jones of the U.S. District Court of Oregon said the two brothers’ don’t necessarily pose a risk of fleeing the country, but that twice they’ve refused to cooperate with the federal government, which they “justified by their interpretation of the Constitution.”

“Thus, I find it likely that if released, they may well ignore the conditions of release,” Jones wrote.

Both Ammon and Ryan helped lead the armed protesters who tried to overtake the national refuge in January. The standoff lasted more than a month. It ended with the militiamen surrendering, and with the death of one man. At the federal hearing on Monday, Ryan’s attorney had asked that he be released from jail during the trial. It was then that federal prosecutors brought up the curious supplies bailiffs had found in Ryan’s cell.

As Oregon public radio, OPB, reported:

“We have actual evidence that he tried to escape,” Assistant U.S. Prosecutor Geoffrey Barrow told the court during a pre-trial detention hearing in Portland.

Barrow said jail staff found the braided rope under Bundy’s mattress when they searched his cell on April 8. Barrow also said Bundy had stored containers of extra food along with six pillowcases, a chair, two extra pairs of boxers and more torn sheets.

The rope was about 15 feet long, made from torn sheets. This, along with the stashed-away food, were not supplies for an escape, Ryan contested. The extra pillowcases were “for comfort,” and he told the bailiff at the time that the tied sheets were just “a rancher, trying to practice braiding rope.”

The judge didn’t agree with that explanation, and wrote that he rejected Ryan’s “excuse that he was practicing braiding.”

Ryan and his brother have both pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, assault on a federal officer, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, among others. The brothers contend the federal government has no right over the refuge, and that the FBI never asked them to leave.

On the stand Monday, Ammon, said, "There never was a standoff.”