MADISON (WKOW) – Long-time capitol protester Jeremy Ryan maintains his alleged attempt at acquiring a radioactive substance was intended to help him potentially commit suicide, not to hurt others.
Federal Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker Monday ruled there was probable cause to believe Ryan tried to purchase Polonium-210 to cause harm, or to kill someone. Crocker also ruled Ryan, 30, would remain jailed, because he presented a risk to the community and is also a flight risk. An FBI agent testified Ryan purchased an airline ticket to Portland, Oregon, scheduled for just days after he obtained a package he thought contained the poisonous substance.
But Ryan’s attorney, federal public defender Joseph Bugni, says by the time Ryan arranged for an online purchase this month of Polonium-210 from what turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, Ryan’s intention was to use the radioactive substance as a back-up plan to commit suicide. Bugni and Ryan’s supporters say Ryan has a cancer that is in remission.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Anderson says Ryan’s initial, on-line connection with the undercover agent in March included Ryan’s statements he was prepared to kill someone with the substance. Anderson also says Ryan wanted a rare material so as to create suspicion of government involvement in any death.
Ryan’s friend and fellow activist, Valerie Walasek tells 27 News Ryan’s claim of wanting the poison to use on himself is plausible, as is his desire to impugn government.
“He has been getting an alternative cancer treatment that is from another country and is not approved by the FDA,” Walasek tells 27 News.
“I believe he wants it to be researched, tested and shared with more people. I believe that’s why he used the government angle,” she says. “He wants people to look at his death.”
Walasek says she believes Ryan did not intend to harm anyone else.
Walasek says dozens of Ryan’s arrests and court cases in connection with his capitol activism were dismissed, and she believes Ryan’s current prosecution is another example of authorities unfairly targeting him.
Walasek says Ryan’s planned travel to Portland was to visit a family member.
Authorities say Ryan picked up a package containing what he thought was Polonium-210 at a Madison UPS store last week. Instead, Anderson says a dummy, non-lethal substance was inside the package. Ryan was arrested a short time later after he went to the Shoe Box retail store in Black Earth. Anderson says the package was in Ryan’s car.
An FBI agent testified Monday no evidence of material related to a “dirty bomb” was found during several searches connected to Ryan.
Authorities say Polonium-210 was responsible for the death of a former Russian spy in London in 2006.