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Bo Gritz says FBI has enlisted him in Rudolph search

Gritz
Gritz   

Ultra-conservative radio host appeals to bombing suspect

August 3, 1998
Web posted at: 7:37 p.m. EDT (1937 GMT)

In this story:

KAMIAH, Idaho (CNN) -- Right-wing radio talk show host Bo Gritz says the FBI has enlisted him in its efforts to get bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph to surrender.

But Gritz, a retired Special Forces colonel who helped negotiate an end to the Ruby Ridge, Idaho, standoff in 1992, insists he is helping FBI agents on his own terms -- not theirs -- in order to save Rudolph's life.

 ALSO:
Mapping the investigations of Eric Rudolph

Gritz told CNN Friday that the FBI believes Rudolph, who has been hiding in the mountains of western North Carolina, might have a shortwave radio and be listening to Gritz's radio broadcasts. He said agents told him they think Rudolph may be one of his fans because of materials found in Rudolph's home.

On Friday, Gritz read a statement on his radio show entitled "Let's Save Eric Rudolph" -- which made an appeal to "people who have Eric's trust."

The FBI had no immediate comment on Gritz's claim.

Offers 'a safe corridor'

Rudolph sketch

"Together we can form a safe corridor for Eric to enter the system with proper representation," Gritz said. He also said he has arranged for an attorney to "stay with Eric throughout all processing, questioning and follow-up procedures."

Rudolph is wanted by federal authorities as a suspect in a January bombing at a women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, where abortions are performed. A security guard died and a nurse was injured. He is also wanted for questioning in three earlier bomb attacks in Atlanta, which federal authorities say show similarities to the Birmingham attack.

Rudolph, who is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List, has eluded authorities for the past six months. For the last three weeks, an intensive search has been under way near Andrews, North Carolina, when Rudolph was spotted in early July.

Gritz is a leader in the Christian Patriot movement and was the 1992 presidential candidate of the ultra-conservative Populist Party. Acquaintances of Rudolph have indicated that he might also hold far-right political beliefs.

One success, one failure

In 1992, Gritz negotiated an end to a violent standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, between the FBI and Randy Weaver, during which Weaver's wife and son died. But in 1996, he was unsuccessful in trying to arrange the surrender of the Montana Freemen during their standoff with federal agents.

Brian Levin, director of the Center on Hate and Extremism at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, New Jersey, said he is not surprised that the FBI might be turning again to Gritz for help.

"I would not be surprised if the FBI reached out to an intermediary like Gritz who might be respected by someone like Rudolph," Levin said, adding that it could also be an attempt by the FBI to reach out to anyone who might be helping Rudolph hide.

Gritz said the FBI has not asked him to travel to North Carolina. But he said he is considering making the trip on his own.

The federal government has put up a $1 million reward for information leading to Rudolph's arrest. Gritz said that if he receives any of the reward money, he would either give it to Rudolph's mother or let Rudolph use it to pay for his defense.

 
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