Feb 9, 2009
Leonard Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) falsely imprisoned since 1977, was severely beaten on January 13 by a gang of inmates. This resulted when authorities transferred him to the Canaan Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
Peltier was sentenced to two life terms after two FBI agents were killed on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. FBI agents had attacked leaders of AIM. When the AIM leaders attempted to defend themselves, the agents were shot.
Since the trial, evidence exonerating Peltier came to light. The prosecution withheld ballistic test results that proved the fatal bullets could not have come from the gun tied to Peltier.
Nonetheless, the FBI has vowed that Peltier will never come out of prison alive. Apparently they are doing everything possible to make sure of that – literally! Once before, the government attempted to have him assassinated – offering another Indian inmate named Standing Deer his release in exchange for killing Peltier. Instead, Standing Deer exposed the plot – only to be murdered himself.
After his most recent beating, supporters of Peltier mounted a campaign, which won his return to the prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He was welcomed back with a hero’s welcome and his fellow inmates there have vowed to ensure his safety. That’s exactly why the government transferred him – because he had support in Lewisburg.
Peltier is now asking to be released to the custody of the Turtle Mountain Indian nation on the grounds prison officials cannot ensure his safety. In fact, they endanger his life. His release is long overdue.