From: Free Leonard!
Date: 31 Jul 2007, 11:38 AM part 2
****Peltier has been in prison since February 6, 1976.****
–Peltier’s conviction sparked great controversy and has drawn criticism from a number of sources. Numerous appeals have been filed on his behalf; none of the rulings have been made in his favor.
— Post-trial debate and developments…. Leonard Peltier
Peltier is considered a political prisoner by some of his supporters and has received support from individuals and groups including Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchú, Amnesty International, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama), the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
–Peltier’s supporters have given two different rationales for a Peltier pardon. One argument asserts that Peltier did not commit the murders and is innocent, and that he either had no knowledge of the murders (as he told CNN in 1999), or that he has knowledge implicating others which he will never reveal, or (as told in Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse) that he approached and searched the agents but did not execute them. Another rationale for pardoning Peltier holds that the killings (no matter who committed them) occurred during a war-like atmosphere on the reservation in which FBI agents were terrorizing residents in the wake of the Pine Ridge standoff in 1972.
–Near the end of President Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2000, rumors began circulating that he was considering granting Peltier clemency. This led to a campaign against the possibility, culminating in a protest outside the White House by about five hundred FBI agents and their families, and a letter opposing clemency from then FBI director Louis Freeh. Clinton did not grant Peltier clemency; some speculate this was at least partially due to the pressure from these protests.
–In 2002, Peltier filed a civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the FBI, Louis Freeh, and a long list of FBI agents who had participated in the campaign against his clemency petition, alleging that they "engaged in a systematic and officially sanctioned campaign of misinformation and disinformation." On March 22, 2004, the suit was dismissed.
–No consensus has yet been reached regarding the events on Pine Ridge in 1975, even in and among Native American communities. News from Indian Country publisher Paul DeMain wrote in 2003 that an "unnamed delegation" with knowledge of the incident told him, "Peltier was responsible for the close range execution of the agents…" DeMain described the delegation as "grandfathers and grandmothers, AIM activists, Pipe Carriers and others who have carried a heavy unhealthy burden within them that has taken its toll."
–In an editorial written in early 2003, DeMain wrote that the motive for the execution-style murder of AIM activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash "allegedly was her knowledge that Leonard Peltier had shot the two agents, as he was convicted." DeMain did not accuse Peltier of participation in the murder. (In 2002 two other AIM members were indicted for the murder.) In response, Peltier launched a libel lawsuit on May 1, 2003, against DeMain. On May 25, 2004, Peltier withdrew the suit after he and DeMain reached a settlement, which involved DeMain issuing a statement where he wrote, “…I do not believe that Leonard Peltier received a fair trial in connection with the murders of which he was convicted. Certainly he is entitled to one. Nor do I believe, according to the evidence and testimony I now have, that Mr. Peltier had any involvement in the death of Anna Mae Aquash.’’ DeMain did not, however, retract his central allegation: That the murderers’ motive for killing Aquash was the fear that she might inform on Peltier.
–In February 2004, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud was tried for the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, and found guilty. On June 26, 2007, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered the extradition of John Graham to the United States, to stand trial for his alleged role in the murder of Annie Mae Aquash.
–In Looking Cloud’s trial, the prosecution argued that AIM’s suspicion of Aquash stemmed from her having heard Peltier admit to the murders. The prosecution called as a witness Darlene “Kamook” Nichols, former wife of AIM leader Dennis Banks. She testified that in late 1975 Peltier confessed to shooting the FBI agents to a group of AIM activists who were at that time on the run from law enforcement. The fugitives included Nichols, her sister Bernie, her husband Dennis Banks, and Aquash, among several others. Nichols alleged that Peltier said, “The mother fucker was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway.” Bernie Nichols-Lafferty also gave the same account of Peltier’s statement. Other witnesses have testified that once Aquash came under suspicion of being an informant, Peltier interrogated her on the matter while holding a gun to her head. Peltier and David Hill later had Aquash participate in bomb-making so that her fingerprints would be on the bombs. The trio then planted these bombs at two power plants on the Pine Ridge reservation.
–On February 10, 2004, Peltier issued a statement: “Kamook’s testimony was like being stabbed in the heart while simultaneously being told your sister just died.” Peltier denounced Kamook Nichol’s courtroom accusations as false, saying “I loved Kamook as my own family. I can’t believe the $43,000 the FBI gave her was a determining factor for her to perjure herself on the witness stand. There must have been some extreme threat the FBI or their cronies put upon her.”
–After the Looking Cloud trial, Darlene Nichols married Robert Ecoffey, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement Services, who was instrumental in the investigation that led to Looking Cloud’s conviction. During the trial Nichols acknowledged receiving $42,000 dollars from the FBI in connection with her cooperation on the case money she explained was compensation for her expenses in travelling to collect evidence by wearing a wire while visiting her ex-husband, Dennis Banks. Some of the money was for moving expenses so that she could move because of her fear of Banks.
–Bruce Ellison – who has been Leonard Peltier’s lawyer since the 1970s– pled the fifth amendment against self-incrimination and refused to testify at the grand jury hearings leading up to the Looking Cloud trial in 2003, or in the trial itself. During the trial, the federal prosecutor named Ellison as a co-conspirator in the Aquash case. Witnesses state that Ellison participated in interrogating Annie Mae Aquash on Dec. 11, 1975, shortly before her murder.
***Peltier has been in prison since February 6, 1976.
**February 27, 2006, was ruled that that the FBI
did not have to hand over five of 812 documents
~In the Spirit of Crazy Horse~