A former justice department official who supervised the case of Leonard Peltier’s appeal wants him released. The previous US Attorney wrote a letter to the White House in favor of the Native American activist.
President Barack Obama has until the end of his term to decide whether to issue a pardon.
Leonard Peltier was a member of the American Indian Movement. He is serving two life sentences on a conviction for murdering two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
He has been in prison for over 40 years.
That’s plenty of time, says James Reynolds. He’s a former United States Attorney who served in Iowa in the late ’70s when Leonard Peltier was tried. He oversaw the prosecution of three men, including Peltier. The other two were tried in Iowa and found not guilty.
Reynolds directed the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Peltier during the appeals process. Reynolds says Peltier’s served enough for punishment.
“There’s an awful lot of activity going on," Reynolds says. "The response letter that I got from them acknowledging my service to the justice department from the pardon attorney is that his clemency, my letter is part of the file and the file is under consideration by the president and at this point he’s the only one that’s got the power to do anything.”
In 1975, FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams were killed on the Pine Ridge Reservation during a shootout near the town of Oglala.
Human rights organizations like Amnesty International have called Peltier a political prisoner and request his release. Others, like former FBI agent Ed Woods, say Peltier is a cold-blooded, convicted murderer who should finish out the remainder of his two life sentences.
In Washington DC, American University is removing a statue of Peltier that had sparked criticism since it was installed.