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Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier is serving two life sentences in federal prison for the June 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He is seen here in June 1992 at the U.S. penitentiary in Leavenworth , Kansas. Photo by Jeffry Scott
White House won’t ‘predict’ decision on Leonard Peltier
Friday, January 28, 2022

The White House isn’t shedding light on what President Joe Biden thinks about imprisoned American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

Peltier is serving two life terms in prison for the murders of two FBI agents, a crime he insists he did not commit. The incident occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in June 1975.

During a media briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about calls for Biden to release Peltier from federal prison. But she didn’t offer any hints as to what the president might be thinking about the case.

“I don’t have anything to predict for you on that front,” Psaki said.

White House Press Briefing: Question on Leonard Peltier – January 27, 2022

The question marked the first time the issue was brought up at a White House briefing since Biden took office a year ago. It came a day after Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, asked the president to commute Peltier’s sentence.

“I commend your administration’s commitment to righting past wrongs in our criminal justice system,” Schatz wrote in the January 26 letter, which was first reported by The Huffington Post.

“In continuing that work as you consider recommendations for individuals to receive clemency, I write to urge you to grant a commutation of Leonard Peltier’s sentence,” Schatz told Biden. A copy of the letter was posted by The Huffington Post.

Peltier, 77, is currently being held at USP COLEMAN I, a high-security penitentiary in Florida. His status is marked as “LIFE” by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Peltier hails from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota.