Peltier Gets First Parole Hearing Since 2009


     Native American activist Leonard Peltier, serving 2 life sentences for the 1975 killings of 2 FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation, had his first parole hearing since 2009 on Monday, but it could be up to 21 days before a decision is announced. 

     Peltier has spent 47-years in prison and is now 79 and in failing health.

Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of the Indigenous-led advocacy group NDN Collective calls the hearing a battle for Peltier’s life and that “It’s time for him to come home.”

      Supporters have long argued that Peltier was wrongly convicted while the FBI and its current and former agents hold him responsible for the deaths of the 2 agents, a  “remorseless killer” who should never be freed

      Peltier has long maintained that while he was among the men who shot at the agents, he didn’t kill them. Two other Native American men who fired were tried in 1976 and found not guilty by reason of self-defense. 

      Peltier fled to Canada before the trial. He was eventually extradited back to the US and tried separately in 1977, when he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, despite defense claims that evidence against him had been falsified.

      Amnesty International has long championed Peltier’s case, saying government prosecutors withheld critical evidence that would have been favorable to Peltier at trial and fabricated affidavits that painted him as guilty.

      Peltier made multiple appeals of his convictions before exhausting that option, and has repeatedly been denied parole. Then-President Barack Obama denied a clemency request in 2017 and another clemency request is pending before President Joe Biden.