FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
03 August 2011
Indigenous and human rights activists will gather in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, on August 7 to call for the freedom of Leonard Peltier. A rally is scheduled for Sunday at the corner of Route 15 and William Penn Drive beginning at 10:00 a.m.
An innocent man, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1977. Imprisoned for over 35 years—currently at the federal prison in Lewisburg,—Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals—have all called for his immediate release. Widely recognized for his humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize nominee, Peltier also is an accomplished author and painter.
Peltier supporters worldwide believe freedom is long overdue for Peltier.
“With no evidence whatsoever, the FBI decided to ‘lock Peltier into the case’. Government officials presented false statements to a Canadian court to extradite Peltier to the U.S. Meanwhile, in a separate trial, Mr. Peltier’s co-defendants were acquitted by reason of self defense. Unhappy with the outcome of that trial, prosecutors went judge shopping and venue hopping to secure a conviction. FBI documents prove that they went so far as to manufacture the so-called murder weapon,” said a spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee in Fargo, North Dakota.
According to court records, the United States Attorney who prosecuted the case has admitted on several occasions that no one knows who fired the fatal shots.
The Peltier case has been examined by renowned author Peter Matthiessen (“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”) and by a documentary film produced and narrated by Robert Redford (“Incident at Oglala”).
Author Jim Messerschmidt (“The Trial of Leonard Peltier”) is convinced Peltier was convicted because the prosecution enjoyed free rein to manipulate highly inconsistent and contradictory circumstantial evidence.
Although the courts have acknowledged evidence of government misconduct—including the coercion of witnesses, the intentional use of false testimonies, and the concealment of ballistics evidence reflecting his innocence—Peltier has been denied a new trial on a legal technicality.
The power to commute Peltier’s sentence of two life terms rests with President Obama.
“Obama has said that freedom and justice for all must begin with freedom and justice in the lives of individual human beings. Why not Leonard Peltier?”