Amnesty calls on Obama to grant Leonard Peltier clemency

Amnesty believes that the U.S. authorities should order Leonard Peltier’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice. — Statement from Amnesty International USA

Washington (14 Sept. 2016) — Amnesty International USA is calling on President Obama to grant clemency to imprisoned Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier.

A statement on their website, says that because  "all available legal remedies have been exhausted and that Leonard Peltier has now spent over 40 years in prison and is in poor health, Amnesty believes that the U.S. authorities should order Leonard Peltier’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice."

Unfair treatment at trial

Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American, is serving 2 consecutive life sentences for the 1975 killing of 2 FBI agents. The deaths followed a period of intensifying violence in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The 2 agents entered the community and a shoot out ensued. 

Peltier was a leading member of the American Indian Movement, an advocacy group and movement concerned with Native American rights, at the time of his arrest. His trial was fraught with serious problems including fraudulent evidence used against him including FBI coerced witnesses. Leonard was eventually convicted of the murder of the 2agents but has always maintained his innocence.

Amnesty International has "studied his case extensively over many years and remains seriously concerned about the fairness of proceedings leading to his trial and conviction. Amnesty believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was prosecuted."

Ongoing denial of justice

The Parole Commission has repeatedly denied Leonard parole on the grounds that he has not accepted criminal responsibility for the murders of the two FBI agents.

Even though, after one such hearing, the Commission acknowledged, “the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that you personally participated in the executions of 2 FBI agents" Peltier has remained imprisoned.

Call for clemency on humanitarian grounds

Amnesty International USA calls for Peltier's release on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice.

"Today, Leonard is 71 years old. He suffers from diabetes, and was recently diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Amnesty understands he is not eligible for consideration for parole again until 2024. Given that all available legal remedies have been exhausted and that that Leonard Peltier has now spent over 40 years in prison and is in poor health, Amnesty believes that the U.S. authorities should order Leonard Peltier’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice."

More information:

Amnesty International USA - Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier Defence Committee (Canada) on Facebook

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