Shortly after arrival he was jumped and brutally beaten by gang members, none of whom he knew. He was subsequently put in solitary confinement in the hole and on restricted meals, endangering his diabetic condition, and allowed only one telephone call per month. He was also prevented from meeting face-to-face with his lawyers.
As a result of public outcry, Leonard Peltier has since been transferred back to Lewisburg Penitentiary. But he must be transferred to the authority of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the sovereign nation to which he belongs. As a model prisoner with a reduced security rating, he does not belong in a maximum security facility like Lewisburg. Until free from Federal custody, his family has requested he be transferred closer to home to either FCI Sandstone (MN) or FCI Oxford (WI).
I hold the warden and the prison system responsible for Leonard Peltier's safety, wellbeing and humane treatment. Leonard Peltier is an internationally known Indigenous activist and has become a global symbol of US injustice and prison abuse. Imprisoned in the late 1970s for allegedly murdering two FBI agents, Peltier has never been given a fair trial. Federal authorities have quashed or destroyed thousands of pages of evidence that might have freed Peltier decades ago.
The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee points out that "Amnesty International considers Leonard Peltier to be a political prisoner whose avenues of redress have long been exhausted....Amnesty International recognizes that a retrial is no longer a feasible option and believes that Leonard Peltier should be immediately and unconditionally released."
The LPDOC adds that "Documents show that although the prosecution and government pointed the finger at Peltier for shooting FBI agents at close range during the trial in 1976, for three years the prosecution withheld critical ballistic test results proving that the fatal bullets could not have come from the gun tied to Leonard Peltier. This trial also denied evidence of self defense."
The LPDOC further notes that "The U.S. Prosecutor, during subsequent oral arguments, stated: 'We can't prove who shot those agents' and the Eighth Circuit found that "There is a possibility that the jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government's case."
Judge Heaney who authored the denial, now supports Mr. Peltier's release, stating that the FBI used improper tactics to gain Mr. Peltier's conviction.
Now 64 years old, Peltier is suffering from diabetes and a series of other serious ailments brought on by his decades in prison. He has great- grandchildren he has never seen.
The gross miscarriage of justice in the case of Leonard Peltier has gone on long enough. He should be released immediately. Since he is a member of a sovereign Native nation, I ask that President Obama work "nation to nation" with the Turtle Mountain Chippewa to bring Peltier home to North Dakota.
Furthermore, Peltier has been a model prisoner for decades. He is long overdue for parole, but the FBI is improperly intervening to prevent his release.
At a time when the government is seeking to restore its international reputation by moving to close down the prison at Guantanamo, Leonard Peltier has been languishing unjustly in the U.S. prison system for decades longer than the Guantanamo prison has existed.
Release Leonard Peltier now!
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