Courts Deny Leonard Peltier Access to FBI Documents

Courts Deny Leonard Peltier Access to FBI Documents

For Immediate Release:

February 27, 2007


Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

(915) 533-6655

Michael Kuzma, Esq.

(716) 822-7645-office

(716) 474-3824-cell


In two separate decisions rendered this month, United States District Judge Donovan W. Frank and a threejudge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit refused to order the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to release thousands of pages of documents relating to Leonard Peltier.

Both Judge Frank and the Appeals Court upheld claims by the FBI that release of the sought-after information would, among other things, cause serious damage to the national security of the United States and the war on transnational terrorism.

In 2003, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit declared that, "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are undisputed." Nevertheless, Judge Frank found that any evidence of prior FBI misconduct was "irrelevant."

Michael Kuzma, attorney for Leonard Peltier in both cases brought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) said that, "The Courts are unwilling to dispense justice when it comes to Leonard Peltier."

Kuzma went on to state, "How can anyone claim that Leonard Peltier received a fair trial in 1977 when the government withheld and continues to withhold thousands and thousands of pages of FBI documents?"

Barry A. Bachrach, who served as co-counsel with Kuzma, indicated that he was, "disappointed, but not surprised that the Courts elected to summarily uphold the decision by the FBI to keep the documents hidden on dubious national security grounds." Bachrach went on to ask, "How can FBI documents generated over three decades ago possibly pose a threat to the national security of the United States?"

Judge Frank's decision will be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Peltier attorneys have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal.

Leonard Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), was convicted in Fargo, North Dakota, on April 18, 1977 for the shooting deaths of FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on June 26, 1975.

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