Tag Archives: Clemency

Leonard Peltier, Convicted of Killing 2 FBI Agents, Denied Clemency from Obama


Leonard Peltier, Convicted of Killing 2 FBI Agents

Obama’s failure to act may have condemned Leonard Peltier to die in prison

By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Staff, Jan 19, 2017

Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement activist who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975, will not receive clemency from President Obama.

Peltier was not on the list of 273 people granted commutations or pardons Tuesday.

The Department of Justice dashed the hopes of Peltier, his family and supporters in a terse email sent to his lawyer Wednesday afternoon.

“The application for commutation of sentence of your client, Mr. Leonard Peltier, was carefully considered in this Department and the White House, and the decision was reached that favorable action is not warranted. Your client’s application was therefore denied by the President on January 18, 2017,” it said.

The denial was posted on the U.S. Justice Department’s website Wednesday.

Peltier’s supporters were hopeful of clemency after Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.

Among those supporting Peltier’s last-ditch bid for freedom is Pope Francis, who wrote to the White House on Tuesday, Peltier’s attorney, Martin Garbus, said on Wednesday.

Peltier, 72, is incarcerated at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida, where he is in poor health and this was thought to be his last opportunity to be released from prison.

The decision not to grant clemency was applauded by Ed Woods, a former FBI agent who has fought for years to keep Peltier imprisoned.

Supporters argue Peltier was wrongly convicted in the killings of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on June 26, 1975.

He was given two life sentences.

Peltier has always maintained his innocence.

His supporters believe there were many flaws in his trial, appeal and the initial investigation.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that President Obama will not let Leonard go home,” read a statement from Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

“The failure to act may have condemned him to die in prison.”

Peltier’s supporters don’t think he will have a chance of clemency after Donald Trump becomes president Friday.

Leonard Peltier’s projected release date is October 11, 2040, at the age of 96.

Former Attorney Whose Office Prosecuted Leonard Peltier Now Wants Him Freed

Leonard Peltier, shown here in a 1999 photo, was given two life sentences in a trial that has sparked controversy for decades. (Joe Ledford/The Associated Press)

Leonard Peltier, shown here in a 1999 photo, was given two life sentences in a trial that has sparked controversy for decades. (Joe Ledford/The Associated Press)

’40 years is enough,’ says James Reynolds, former U.S. attorney for Iowa

CBC News | Jan 04, 2017

His office prosecuted Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier 40 years ago; now former U.S. attorney James Reynolds is asking outgoing President Barack Obama for clemency.

Reynolds, the former U.S. attorney in Iowa, made the request in a letter sent to the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice on Dec. 21.

Peltier, 71, is in failing health. He’s been behind bars for over 40 years after being convicted in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

“I think it’s time,” Reynolds told the New York Daily News. “Forty years is enough.”

Wrongfully convicted

Reynolds, who was appointed to his position by former president Jimmy Carter in 1980, became U.S. attorney for Iowa after the original prosecution of Peltier and was part of the appeal that upheld the Peltier conviction.

But he now joins many people and groups, including Amnesty International, who believe Peltier may have been wrongfully convicted in the 1975 trial and subsequent appeal.

“Amnesty believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was prosecuted,” the organization said on its website.

“We might have shaved a few corners here and there,” Reynolds admitted to the New York Daily News.

Amnesty also believes Peltier — who suffers from diabetes and other ailments — should be released because of his health.

“U.S. authorities should order Leonard Peltier’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice,” the human rights organization said.

Hero figure

To many, Peltier is a hero of the Indigenous rights movement in the 1970s and a wrongfully convicted political prisoner whose story has inspired books, songs and T-shirt slogans.

The Assembly of First Nations in Canada has frequently spoken out in support of Peltier, though in recent years that has sparked controversy.


Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash was shot and killed in 1975. (The Associated Press)

In March 2016, the daughter of slain Indigenous rights activist Annie Mae Pictou Aquash demanded an apology from National Chief Perry Bellegarde for suggesting Peltier should be freed from prison.

Denise Maloney Pictou believes Peltier protected her mother’s killers and was involved in events that led to her death in 1975.

“Leonard Peltier has been romanticized as a hero,” Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, told CBC News in March.

“The [Aquash] family has taken great offence to that.”

With files from New York Daily News, The Canadian Press

Source: CBC News

It’s Time: Call for Clemency for Leonard Peltier

Jack Healey | The Huffington Post

Not many blog posts start off with a listing of the deceased, but in Leonard Peltier’s clemency request to President Obama, he will say the following:

After 40 years in prison, it is with sadness that I write the names of some of my dearest friends and strongest supporters who have passed on: My friend, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii who was my great champion is one. My dear friend, writer Peter Matthiessen along with Bill and Rose Styron, and Kurt Vonnegut were some of the writers who cared about me and stayed in contact with me. Marlon Brando and Steve Allen were my friends. Looking back so many members of my family and so many friends and many of my lawyers have gone on. I miss them all.

Today on YouTube we are releasing a second request for citizens to join the long list of Nobel laureates, civil and human rights leaders, religious and political leaders and scholars calling for clemency for Leonard Peltier. Bonnie Raitt and Robbie Robertson are featured in the new edition of our PSA.

Is it not time for you to join this effort? Clemency is a request any citizen can make of our government, and all our voices need to be heard. We just want Leonard to go to his home on the northern plains and be able to spend what remains of his life with his family and be able to rest and be at ease with his people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, his relatives in Indian country, and with us.

Pope Francis recently said that “long prison sentences are death sentences.” We believe Peltier is innocent, but we are not arguing that anymore. What happened on that bitter day in 1975 was part of an ongoing conflict, and we may never know what really happened. Forty years is long enough, in any case. Another life has been taken for all practical purposes.

Today, with the passage of four decades, Peltier’s supporters have included the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand and Pete Seeger. The late Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa spoke and wrote for him. Civil rights giants Coretta Scott King, Congressman John Lewis and many members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood up for him in very meaningful ways that included helping him get some badly needed medical care. The late, wrongly convicted boxer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter spoke strongly for Peltier’s release and shared his own story of years behind bars without the benefit of a fair trial.

Sixty members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an amicus brief calling for a new trial. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for his release, as did 55 members of Canada’s Parliament.

Nobel laureates including Rigaberta Menchu Tum of Guatamala, Mairaid Maguire and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland, Jose Ramos Horta and others have come to his aid. Yet he still wastes away in a super-max prison 2,000 miles from his home on the northern plains.

On human rights day of last year, Leonard’s supporters called for his release. Kris Kristofferson, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Carlos Santana, Harry Belafonte, Robbie Robertson, Pam Anderson, UK’s Peter Gabriel, Michael Moore, Wes Studie, Irene Bedard, the National Congress of American Indians (representing 566 tribes), The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of Canada, the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge (South Dakota) and more then 500 other tribes in the U.S. and Canada, award-winning Native American film director Chris Eyre and many Native actors and musicians are part of his support groups. Human Rights Action Center, the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International have all called for clemency.

Names like Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte and Steve Allen seem from a long-ago era. Only Mr. Belafonte survives to this day. As a longtime singer, actor, artist and human rights activist, Belafonte received a special lifetime Humanitarian Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. He has supported the efforts to secure the freedom of Leonard Peltier from the beginning and calls it one of the most important issues of his time.

Jack Healey is the Director of the Human Rights Action Center.


See what others have to say in the “I WILL” video:

Readers can make the difference.

I WILL… call the White House to request clemency.

Leave comment when you have contacted the White House.

Follow Jack Healey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HRAC