PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday ordered the pretrial release of a man accused of eco-terrorism as soon as he tests negative for COVID-19.
“It has become untenable for him to review discovery and in helping counsel prepare for trial,” U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken said about Joseph M. Dibee. “I think this is the most appropriate manner to move this case forward.”
Dibee, 53, learned he was infected with the coronavirus after he was tested Dec. 21 in Inverness Jail, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. He was tested only at the urging of his defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, who had reported to the court that Dibee was ill. The former Seattle man has pleaded not guilty to federal arson and conspiracy charges in Portland.
Aiken said she was “really disturbed” by the medical issues at the jail, considering that she had received weekly status reports that no one in the jail had contracted the coronavirus and learned only of Dibee’s positive test when she ordered a test for him. After that, the jail reported a second inmate also had tested positive.
Aiken ordered Dibee to be released to his sister’s home in Seattle and quarantined there once he tests negative for COVID-19. He’ll be under GPS monitoring and home detention. After his quarantine, he can live with and care for his father, who is suffering from a terminal illness, the judge said.
Until Dibee tests negative, Aiken also ordered the Sheriff’s Office not to move Dibee out of Inverness Jail’s medical unit.
He was arrested in August 2018 in Cuba, a fugitive for 12 years accused in a string of environmental sabotage attacks across the West.
Prosecutors say that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dibee joined about a dozen animal rights and environmental activists in setting fires in Washington, and Oregon and elsewhere.
unit against the judge’s direction.