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Vol. 81/No. 3      January 16, 2017


Gov’t attorney urges Obama to grant Leonard
Peltier clemency

James Reynolds, the retired U.S. attorney whose office put Native American leader Leonard Peltier in prison for more than 40 years on frame-up charges of killing two FBI agents, has written to President Barack Obama urging him to free the political prisoner.

In a Dec. 21 letter, Reynolds told Obama that clemency for Peltier, now 71 and suffering from a heart condition and other health problems, is “in the best interest of justice.”

“I think it’s time,” Reynolds told the New York Daily News in a phone interview.

Reynolds told the News he’s not convinced Peltier is guilty. The agents died during a shootout when more than 100 federal cops surrounded a camp on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation where Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement, and others were defending themselves in 1975. In spite of the lack of any physical evidence, Peltier was railroaded to jail with two consecutive life sentences. Washington had declared war on the American Indian Movement, launching a Counterintelligence Program after Native American actions took place across the country in the late 1960s and ’70s protesting oppressive conditions.

When asked if the wrong man was convicted, Reynolds replied, “I don’t know. Who knows?” He noted that Peltier “would not be the first” to be wrongfully convicted.

“When you stand at the bottom and you look at the naked underbelly of our system, it has got flaws,” he said. Referring to Peltier’s trial and appeal, which he was successful in blocking, Reynolds admitted that “we might have shaved a few corners here and there.”

Peltier’s defense committee asks people to write to Obama and urge him to grant clemency. Call (202) 456-1111 or go to to send an email.

You can also write to Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, USP Coleman I, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman FL 33521.
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