An Idaho judge has issued an arrest warrant for right-wing activist Ammon Bundy after he failed to appear in court on defamation charges.
Ada County Judge Nancy Baskin issued the warrant for Bundy and set his bail at $250,000 after he emailed her saying he would refuse to appear at any future hearings.
“I have much more important matters to attend to...” Bundy wrote in the email to Judge Baskin, reported Boise State Public Radio.
Bundy and his co-defendants were ordered by a jury in August to pay St Luke’s Health System more than $52m in damages for defamatory statements made against it.
Lawyers for St Luke’s say that Bundy has continued to attack the hospital despite an injunction ordering him to remove 18 months’ worth of statements from the internet.
His failure to appear in court on Monday came after the judge delayed the hearing earlier this year at Bundy’s request so he could harvest crops.
“I am shocked that he has sent this email thinking he can simply decide he can just not appear,” said Judge Baskin. “Mr Bundy does not seem to understand that the court calendar is not his calendar.”
Bundy responded to the judge with a post on X.
“Today Judge Baskin issued a $250,000 warrant for my arrest. The only thing I care to say is that I don’t regret any of it.”
The judge also ordered that Bundy forfeit his initial $10,000 bond.
“This court is doing everything in its power to protect Mr Bundy’s rights, to give him an opportunity to confront and cross-examine witnesses, to have his motion to dismiss heard. I simply cannot do that unless he is actually at court,” added Judge Baskin.
Bundy’s issue with the hospital began when he and his co-defendant organised protests there in 2022 after police seized the grandchild of his co-defendant, Diego Rodriguez, amid welfare concerns and took the child to St Luke’s.
Medical staff determined that the child was malnourished and the youngster was hospitalised for three days before being returned to his parents.
During a follow-up appointment officials decided that the child had again lost weight and police seized the child during a traffic stop.
Bundy and his co-defendant claimed that the child had been “medically kidnapped” and falsely accused those involved of “child trafficking”, reported The Associated Press.
The protests forced the hospital’s Boise campus to be placed in lockdown, according to BSPR.
Bundy was ordered to pay $6.2m in compensatory damages and $6.15m in punitive damages, while Rodriguez must pay $7m in compensatory damages and $6.5m in punitive damages, reported AP. The balance of the verdict must be paid by organisations associated with Bundy.
Mr Rodriguez has appealed the ruling against him to the Idaho Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled on the case.
In an email to the radio station, Bundy said that he did not regret his actions and asked supporters to pray for his family.
Bundy is an anti-government activist who led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
He is the son of rancher Cliven Bundy, who was the leading figure in a 2014 protest in Nevada over his right to graze cows illegally on federal property.
In April 2022, Bundy, who was a candidate for governor at the time, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and handed a $3,000 fine for failing to complete court-ordered public service.
He had been given 40 hours of community service instead of a prison sentence after he was convicted of trespassing and resisting arrest for refusing to leave a committee room at the Idaho Statehouse in 2020.
But rather than carry out actual community service he instead submitted the hours that he had worked on his gubernatorial campaign on campaign note paper, a court heard.