Diana McCarty on Thu, 16 Jul 1998 23:57:02 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> The case of Leonard Peltier

{Dear Nettimers,
I found this text on the net, and while it is already more than
a year old, it is unlikely that anything significant has changed. Sadly
there is not a very active global campaign to free this man, although there
are the Free Leonard Peltier Foundation and the American Indian Movement
supporting his release.  There are at least two quite good documentaries
about Peltier - I believe one is called "Shootout at Pine Ridge" and the
other "Oglala Massacre". Despite his years in prison, Peltier is not
forgotten. One of the most powerful performances of the 96' Miss Indian
World Contest was a young girl's oration of Lakota Sioux's national anthem,
dedicated to Peltier.


Leonard Peltier is an Anishinabe-Lakota man and a leader of the American
Indian Movement (AIM). Because of his work with AIM, he was targeted by the
US Government and framed on false murder charges.
He has been imprisoned for nearly 16 years for a crime he did not  commit
and is sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms.

In 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, random murders,
beatings and unexplained and often fatal "accidents" were in the norm. The
violence instigated by US Government backed tribal leader Richard Wilson
was aimed at destroying the leaders of AIM whom traditional Lokota peoples
had summoned for protection.

On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents drove onto the Pine Ridge Reservation
allegedly following a red pickup truck. A shoot-out occurred leaving both
agents and a Native American  man dead. The death of the agents led to one
of the biggest manhunts in FBI history.

Of the four men eventually indicted for the murder of the agents, one was
released due to "weak" evidence. Two others were aquitted in July, 1976
when a jury concluded that although they had fired at the agents, they had
done so in self defense.

 Leonard Peltier was indicted on the very same charges, but not tried until
the following year after a questionable extradiction from Canada.
Government prosecutors admitted in 1985 that the affidavits used in the
extradiction hearings were fabricated. The witness who signed the
affidavits said she was coerced by the FBI into signing them.

Peltier was convicted on two counts of first degree murder in the first
degree and is in  his 16th year in prison for a crime he steadfastly
maintains he did not commit. The Justice Department admits they do not know
who killed the agents. For "national security reasons" the FBI still
refuses to release to Peltier's defense team over 6,000 documents related
to the case.

Since Peltier's conviction in 1977, the courts have rejected two appeals
for a new trial. In 1985, some 55 members of Congress filed an Amicus Brief
in support of Peltier receiving a new trial. Anmesty International has
recognized Peltier as a political prisoner and has has called for a new
trial as have 60 members of Canada's Parliment, the Archbishop of
Canterbury and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Peltier has declarations of support
from tribal governments of 20 US Indian reservations including Pine Ridge.
In 1986, Spain awarded Leonard Peltier the International Human Rights Prize
for "defending the historical and cultural rights of his people."  More
than 20 million people around the world have signed petitions and
expressions of support.

 In July 1993, the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Leonard's
plea for a new trial.

{and from another similar text - slightly updated infomation}

In November of 1993, a petition to the President for executive clemency was
filed. We are still awaiting a decision. Several large scale events have
brought new attention to the case in Washington, DC including Peltier
Weekend and the Walk for Justice in June and July of 1994, and the Mothers
of All Colors Caravan in October 1994. In June of 1995 we held a Freedom
Forum in D.C. which was featured for three days on C-Span.

On December 11, 1995 a parole hearing examiner congratulated Leonard for
his good behavior and humanitarian work from behind prison bars. On March
18, 1996 the United States Parole Commission denied parole stating that
Peltier had not given "a specific, factual account of (his)
actions...consistent with the jury's verdict of guilt." How can an innocent
man do such a thing? The parole denial is currently being

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