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  • Leonard Peltier

    Leonard Peltier | Photo: Amnesty International

Published 18 January 2017

The Native American activist's lawyer said not granting clemency was like a death sentence, given Peltier's poor health.

The U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney announced Wednesday night that President Barack Obama has denied clemency to imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who has been in prison for more than 40 years on charges that have been proven false.

RELATED:
From Mumia to Peltier, US Political Prisoners Still Locked Up

Peltier is a former member of the American Indian Movement who was convicted of killing two FBI agents during a shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. He has long maintained his innocence.

"I think it’s fair to say that if he doesn’t get commuted by President Obama, he’ll die in jail. He’s a very sick man," Peltier’s attorney Martin Garbus told Democracy Now! Earlier on Wednesday.

"So, Obama’s not granting him clemency is like a sentence of death. Trump ain’t going to do it. And he’s very sick, and he’s not going to live past that time. I don’t want to be negative, but that’s the reality. He’s very sick, and he’s been in prison over 40 years, hard years, six years of solitary."

The Obama administration has made it official that it will not be letting the Native American activist go home despite his poor health and his apparent innocence.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that President Obama will not let Leonard go home,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Many activists have been calling on Obama to release Peltier including Pope Francis. Garbus told reporters that the pontiff sent the White House a last-minute appeal Tuesday to plead for clemency in Peltier's case.

More commutations are expected from President Obama on his last day in office Thursday, the New York Daily News reported.

Calls for clemency for the Indigenous leader intensified Tuesday when Chelsea Manning, the former ex-U.S. soldier who leaked secret military documents, and the Puerto Rican independence fighter were included in commutations by the outgoing president.

Many activists have been calling on Obama to release Peltier including Pope Francis. Garbus told reporters that the pontiff sent the White House a last-minute appeal Tuesday to plead for clemency in Peltier's case.

ANALYSIS:
The Case for Releasing Leonard Peltier

Last May, when the New York Daily News reporter visited him at the super-max prison, Peltier predicted that he would die in prison.

"I am prepared to die here. I would prefer it be back at my home, but I'm realistic about my chances," he told the newspaper from the prison visiting room. "I have my funeral all planned, I want a full ceremonial burial, with drumming, everything. Traditionally, it should be about three days."

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