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FBI, 'Freemen' Ready for Dramatic Surrender After 80-Day Standoff

June 13, 1996| From Associated Press

JORDAN, Mont. — With the blessing of a jailed "freemen" leader, FBI agents and members of the extremist group positioned themselves Wednesday for a dramatic surrender to end the 80-day standoff.

A flurry of meetings took place within the compound, and a 16-year-old girl was brought to the gate and picked up by FBI agents. She was the last youth to leave, and a prosecutor said she would be taken into state custody.

Karl Ohs, a Montana legislator who has been acting as a mediator, was flying into Jordan on Wednesday for what he hoped would be the final negotiations this morning.

As freemen gathered Wednesday night in the main building at their compound, FBI agents in flak jackets took down the tent-like shelter at the compound's entrance where weeks of open-air negotiations have taken place.

And a few miles away, agents drove three passenger vans to a small church within the FBI perimeter, apparently in preparation for the freemen's departure.

At a jailhouse meeting in Billings on Tuesday, Edwin Clark won approval for the surrender plans from LeRoy Schweitzer, a freemen leader whose arrest March 25 started the standoff.

The surrender plan worked out with the FBI was almost derailed on Wednesday when farmer Dean Clark tried to begin planting on 2,300 acres of land, adjacent to the freemen ranch, which he had bought at a foreclosure sale.

He agreed to put off the planting for one day at the FBI's request.

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