Former U.S. attorney supports clemency for Leonard Peltier

A portrait of Leonard Peltier in San Francisco's Mission District. (Photo credit: Gary Stevens via Flickr / Creative Commons)

The movement pushing President Barack Obama to offer clemency to Native American rights activist Leonard Peltier has a new ally – a former U.S. prosecutor close to the case. Seán Kinane reports, in the closing weeks of the Obama administration supporters of the former member of the American Indian Movement see a glimmer of hope.

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A former U.S. attorney involved in the case against Leonard Peltier has now written an open letter to President Obama supporting his request for clemency.

Peltier was convicted of killing two FBI agents in a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation, but has maintained his innocence for four decades. The shooting occurred during a time of intense indigenous rights organizing by the American Indian Movement, in which Peltier was active.

Attorney James Reynolds supervised the government’s legal team during an appeal in which Peltier’s sentence and conviction were affirmed.

“I just thought that it was time,” Reynolds tells FSRN. “With all the circumstances that have gone down, both good and bad, it was maybe time for the president to grant clemency and to end the justice part of the case.”

Reynolds says he’s not making a statement about Peltier’s guilt or innocence, just that after about 40 years it’s time for the 71-year-old to be released.

Peltier is regarded as an elder and a political prisoner by a new generation of indigenous rights activists in the U.S. Peltier has written passionately about the current movement at Standing Rock, noting some its leaders are veterans of the resistance at Pine Ridge, where a 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee ended with a pledge to investigate treaty abuses – a pledge that has yet to be fulfilled.

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