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A decision to determine the fate of American Indian Movement (AIM) member Leonard Peltier (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) by the U.S. Parole Commission will come within 21 days. The first parole hearing in 15 years for Peltier, 79, who is incarcerated for the killing of two FBI agents,Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was held on Monday, June 10, 2024. 

The hearing was held before a U.S. Parole Commission examiner inside the United States Penitentiary, Coleman, a high-security prison, in Coleman. Fla.

RELATED: Parole Commission: It’s Long Past the Time to FREE Leonard Peltier

The back and forth between those representing the government and those seeking Peltier’s release at the hearing felt like a trial, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Native News Online on Monday evening. 

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Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective, an Indigenous advocacy group, was a witness who wants Peltier freed.

“This whole entire hearing is a battle for his life,” Tilsen said. “It’s time for him to come home.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray, sent a letter, dated June 7, 2024, in opposition to Peltier’s release.

“Given the overwhelming and unassailable evidence of his guilt, the brutality of his crimes, and his persistent refusal to accept responsibility, I urge you in the strongest terms possible to deny Peltier’s application for parole. To afford him release after what he did and how he has conducted himself since would most certainly “depreciate the seriousness of his offense [and] promote disrespect for the law,” Wray wrote.

Amnesty International Executive Director Paul O’Brien wrote a letter to the parole commission pleading for Pelter’s freedom on humanitarian grounds. 

“Given the ongoing, unresolved concerns about the fairness of Leonard Peltier’s incarceration, that he has spent nearly 50 years in prison, his age, and ongoing and chronic health issues, it is our view that granting parole on humanitarian grounds in this case is not only timely but a necessary measure in the interests of both justice and mercy,” O’Brien wrote.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].