Leonard Peltier 'condemned' to die in prison: Amnesty

Leonard Peltier, convicted of murdering two FBI agents more than four decades ago, has been denied clemency from outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama.

Peltier, convicted of killing 2 FBI agents, denied clemency from outgoing U.S. president

Leonard Peltier, shown here in a 1999 photo, was given two life sentences in a trial that has sparked controversy for decades. (Joe Ledford/The Associated Press)

Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier has been denied clemency from outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama.

Amnesty International made the announcement on Wednesday. 

Peltier, 72, is a member of the American Indian Movement who has been behind bars for more than 40 years after being convicted in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

He was given two life sentences.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that President Obama will not let Leonard go home," read a statement from Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. 

"The failure to act may have condemned him to die in prison."

Failing health

Amnesty International and many other groups believe Peltier may have been wrongfully convicted in his 1975 trial and subsequent appeal.

Peltier has always maintained his innocence and his supporters believe there were many flaws in that trial, appeal and the initial investigation.

Leonard Peltier has been in prison for over four decades. (Jeffry Scott)
He has become a hero of the Indigenous rights movement in the 1970s and is seen by many as a political prisoner whose story has inspired books, songs and T-shirt slogans.

Celebrities, politicians and even Pope Francis have asked for clemency for Peltier, who is in failing health.

"The families of the FBI agents who were killed during the 1975 confrontation between the FBI and American Indian Movement (AIM) members have a right to justice," Huang said. 

"But justice will not be served by Peltier's continued imprisonment."