International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

The 71-year-old has lived behind barbed wire and concrete walls for more than half of his life, cemented in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

As he wages a four-decade legal battle in a case clouded with conflicting testimony, political influence and doubt, he also struggles with declining health, including diabetes, a heart condition, multiple jaw surgeries and loss of vision and motor function due to a stroke.

In the first month of 2016, Peltier was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm—a swollen aorta that can amount to a tiny ticking time bomb if left untreated. Sometime during our visit, he turned to me and said, “If you don’t get me out of here, I’m going to die—and it won’t be of old age.”

Unless President Obama grants him clemency, Peltier’s prediction will almost certainly come true.


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