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Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier, who's serving 2 life sentences, is denied parole

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So in other news, the U.S. is denying parole for Leonard Peltier of the American Indian movement. In the 1970s, he was involved in a shootout with federal agents in South Dakota. Two agents were killed, and he is serving two life sentences. He admitted he was present, but denied the killing, and human rights groups have taken up his cause. Here's South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Lee Strubinger.

LEE STRUBINGER, BYLINE: Peltier is hailed as a champion for Native American civil rights. His supporters see him as a symbol of the fight against racism and oppression toward Indigenous people. Nick Tilsen is president of NDN Collective, an Indigenous advocacy group. He says the parole denial is like a death sentence.

NICK TILSEN: It's utter disappointment, and it comes with a long line of disrespect and disregard that this nation has had to its Indigenous people.

STRUBINGER: The FBI has strongly opposed Peltier's release. Ed Woods is a retired FBI agent with the No Parole Peltier Association.

ED WOODS: Justice prevails. He's been telling these fabrications for years, feigning innocence, but the parole board obviously saw through that.

STRUBINGER: Peltier is 79, and his health is deteriorating. It'll be years before his next chance at parole. Supporters say the odds he'll live that long are slim. They will now push for clemency from President Biden.

For NPR News, I'm Lee Strubinger in Rapid City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.