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The Longest-Held Political Prisoner in the United States Just Got His First Hearing in Over a Decade

ActivismActivismThe Longest-Held Political Prisoner in the United States Just Got His First Hearing in Over a Decade

On Monday, June 10, Leonard Peltier, the longest-held political prisoner in the United States, just got his first parole hearing in over 15 years. Peltier has been in prison for 47 years.

In 1975, Peltier was convicted of the killings of two FBI agents, a crime that his supporters maintain that he did not commit. The Indigenous movement as well as the movement for the freedom of U.S. political prisoners maintain that Peltier’s conviction was a frame-up to repress Peltier’s leadership in the movement for Indigenous liberation.

The deliberation on parole takes place at a moment when Peltier’s health is declining. The now 79-year-old political prisoner struggles with diabetes, and loss of vision in one eye, has had open heart surgery, has suffered from an aortic aneurysm, and experiences lingering effects from contracting COVID-19.

Activists have emphasized that President Joe Biden has the power to grant Peltier clemency at the stroke of a pen. “This administration, the Biden Administration, has said that Native American rights are a priority to them, and yet they’ve got the longest sitting Indigenous political prisoner locked up and we’ve seen no action from the federal government,” said Nick Tilsen, leader of the NDN Collective, an organization building Indigenous collective power in the United States, speaking to ICT News and Rapid City Journal. “If he dies in prison this will forever be a part of that administration’s legacy as it relates to Native people.”

Source: Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

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