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Obama rejects clemency for native American activist Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier's Supporters Were Hopeful Of Clemency After The Obama Commuted The Sentence Of Chelsea Manning, Who Was Convicted Of Leaking Classified Documents To Wikileaks.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Kanishk Sharma | Updated on: 19 Jan 2017, 09:32:28 AM
A portrait of AIM activist Leonard Peltier, a Chippewa-Lakota Indian serving a life sentence for the murder of 2 FBI agents. (Getty Images)

New Delhi:

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has rejected the clemency of American-Indian activist Leonard Peltier who is serving a life sentence for murdering two FBI agents in South Dakota in 1975.

Peltier's supporters were hopeful of clemency after the Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. 

Among those supporting Peltier's last-ditch bid for freedom is Pope Francis, who wrote to the White House on Tuesday, Peltier's attorney, Martin Garbus, said on Wednesday. 

The White House declined to comment on deliberations about clemency for Peltier or most people who have sought it in the closing days of the Obama administration. 

Peltier was not on the list of 273 people granted commutations or pardons Tuesday. 

Peltier's supporters argue he was wrongly convicted in the killings of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on June 26, 1975. 

He has exhausted his appeals and his requests for parole have been denied. The FBI maintains he is guilty. 

Peltier's supporters presume he has no chance after Donald Trump becomes president. 

Now 72, Peltier is incarcerated at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida. 

The International Leonard Peltier Defence Committee says he's in poor health. "If the president doesn't grant clemency, he's condemning him to death in prison," said former US attorney James Reynolds, who oversaw post-trial actions in the case following Peltier's conviction in 1977 and wrote to Obama last year. 

Peltier was a leader of the American-Indian Movement, which grabbed headlines in 1973 when it took over the village of Wounded Knee on the reservation, leading to a 71-day standoff with federal agents.

Tensions between AIM and the government remained high for years, proving the backdrop for the fatal confrontation, where both agents were shot in the head at close range. Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

(With inputs from PTI) 

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First Published : 19 Jan 2017, 09:18:00 AM