After 32 Years in Prison, American Indian Activist Leonard Peltier Denied Parole
Interview with Eric Seitz, attorney for Native American activist Leonard Peltier, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Native American human rights activist Leonard Peltier has been incarcerated for more than 32 years. He was convicted of the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Violence on the reservation occurred during a time of open warfare between Indian traditionalists and the corrupt tribal leadership, while U.S. government forces occupied the land.
Peltier's trial was riddled with improprieties, including withholding by the government of exculpatory evidence and coercion of witnesses, all amid an atmosphere of great fear and intimidation. Peltier has always claimed he did not shoot the FBI agents. Two other Indian activists arrested for the same crime, but tried separately, were acquitted based on their claim of self-defense.
Members of the FBI have always been active in opposing every motion for a new trial and challenged a request for clemency from former President Bill Clinton. This summer, Peltier came up for parole after serving the required minimum 15 years on each murder conviction, served consecutively. But the George W. Bush-appointed members of the federal parole commission denied Peltier parole release. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Eric Seitz, Peltier's attorney, about this latest development and what might lie ahead.
Native American activist Leonard Peltier is currently imprisoned at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. For more information, contact the Leonard Peltier Defense/Offense Committee at (701) 235-2206 or visit their website at www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.
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