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FBI Orders Journalists Off Hill Overlooking 'Freemen' Ranch

May 30, 1996| From Associated Press

JORDAN, Mont. — The FBI ordered reporters and cameramen to leave their hillside vantage point overlooking the "freemen" compound Wednesday but said it was not a prelude to a move against the anti-government extremists.

Officials said they decided to evict the media after a Fox Television news crew went to a fence around the compound Tuesday night and negotiated for interviews with the freemen without telling the government beforehand.

"The negotiators have their own strategy for contacting the freemen and don't want this kind of disruption," said a senior federal official in Washington.

The FBI has isolated the rural area around the freemen's farm complex since March 25, but had made no attempt to prevent journalists from watching from a country road on a hillside about a mile from the freemen's main house.

One of two large generators, brought in to provide electricity to area ranches if the freemen compound is cut off, was running Wednesday. But U.S. Atty. Sherry Matteucci said power to the compound has not been cut and there were no immediate plans to do so.

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