Now, with two days left in his presidency, Obama has the chance to close one of the more troubling chapters in the history of U.S. government-Native American relations

 By commuting Peltier's two consecutive life sentences, the president will have the final word on a case that's stained federal law enforcement for decades.

"He missed so much of my life, important moments like graduations, and I had to remember he wasn’t missing these moments because he wanted to — he had no choice.

My worst fear is that he will die in prison and I won’t have any real time with him." wrote Peltier's daughter, Kathy Peltier, in a blog post for Amnesty International.

On Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney James Reynolds, a former prosecutor who oversaw key parts of Peltier's appeal, wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune calling for clemency for the aging activist.

Reynolds is not alone in his advocacy, joining countless Native Americans, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and over 50 members of Congress who have at different points called for Peltier's release.

Peltier was not on the list of 273 people granted commutations or pardons Tuesday. The White House has said Obama would grant more commutations Thursday.

The answer to whether Obama will release Peltier or not will have to come before Jan. 20. The clock is ticking on Peltier's freedom, and with it, the hopes of his global network of supporters.

UPDATE VIA International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

January 18, 2017 / Clemency denied!

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney Washington, D.C. 20530

January 18, 2017

Mr. Martin Garbus Attorney 3 Park Avenue New York, NY 10016-5902 Re: Mr. Leonard Peltier

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

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