Pete Santilli was one of the men arrested outside of Burns, Ore., last Tuesday. He faces a felony charge of conspiracy to impede federal officers.


Santilli hosts an online talk radio show called the Pete Santilli Show. He joined the armed ranchers occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Media reports described him as the groups “spokesperson.”

In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Santilli described his role in the occupation.

I’m here as an independent media journalist, coordinating major international media coverage of this event.”

The criminal complaint appears to indicate that his crime was speaking up in support of the ranchers. He maintains that he was unarmed. He urged people to come to Oregon in support of the ranchers – unarmed.

The Rutherford institute issued a warning “against attempts by the government to intimidate journalists whose reporting portrays the government in a negative light or encourages citizens to challenge government injustice and wrongdoing.” Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead characterized the tactic as nothing new, likening to to the way some journalists were treated during the Ferguson protests.

The FBI’s prosecution of this radio shock jock is consistent with the government’s ongoing attempts to intimidate members of the press who portray the government in a less than favorable light. This is not a new tactic. During the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, numerous journalists were arrested while covering the regions’ civil unrest and the conditions that spawned that unrest. These attempts to muzzle the press were clearly concerted, top-down efforts to restrict the fundamental First Amendment rights of the public and the press. Not only does this tactic silence individual journalists, but it has a chilling effect on the press as a whole, signaling that they will become the target of the government if they provide reporting on these events with a perspective that casts the government in a bad light.”

Santilli is bombastic. He certainly stirs up controversy. He may even be a jerk. But does that make him a criminal?

Below you will find the criminal complaint. I challenge you to read all nine pages and then tell me exactly what crime this man committed.

NOTE: Several people have asked why I only posted a section of the complaint. I followed the lead of the Rutherford Institute and embedded the section that contained the evidence specifically relating to Santilli, as it is most germane to the point being made, and it would be difficult to highlight it within the full PDF. If you want to read the complete complaint, you will find it HERE.