January 18, 2017, in a letter addressed to Leonard Peltier’s lawyer, the Obama administration formally denied the request to grant clemency to Peltier.
Leonard Peltier, a Native rights activist and member of the American Indian Movement, has been incarcerated since 1976 convicted of a crime he did not commit. Peltier’s struggle to gain freedom has crossed the globe and supporters include the likes of Mother Theresa and Desmond Tutu, whom have all called for his clemency.
Recently, the lead prosecutor in the Peltier case, former United States Attorney James H. Reynolds, called on Obama to grant Peltier clemency stating Peltier’s release would be, “in the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved.”
In 2003, the judges of the 10th Circuit stated: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”
Peltier is 72 years old and considered to be in poor health.
Letter to Peltier’s lawyer.
Dear Mr. Martin Garbus:
The application for commutation of sentence of your client, Mr. Leonard Peltier, was carefully considered in this Department and the White House, and the decision was reached that favorable action is not warranted. Your client’s application was therefore denied by the President on January 18, 2017. Please advise your client accordingly.
Under the Constitution, there is no appeal from this decision. As a matter of well-established policy, we do not disclose the reasons for the decision in a clemency matter. In addition, deliberative communications pertaining to agency and presidential decision-making are confidential and not available under existing case law interpreting the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. Your client will become eligible to reapply for commutation one year from the date on which the President denied the current application.
Office of the Pardon Attorney
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)