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11 May, 2009 07:39

Will Obama free Leonard Peltier?

Leonard Peltier, one of America's longest-serving prisoners, has been locked up for over 30 years for a conviction that has drawn criticism from around the world.

Peltier was found guilty of killing of two FBI agents in 1975.

After being denied an appeal numerous times, his supporters are hoping this year's parole hearing will be different.

He’s doing time for two murders that another man may have gotten away with.

For years, Peltier headed the American Indian movement, demanding an end to the racism and injustices done toward native Americans.

Considered a national security threat by the FBI, Peltier believed they were out to get him.

In 1975, a bloody shootout left two FBI agents dead on an Indian reservation.

Rob Robideau and Leonard Peltier were both there that day. Robideau was acquitted, but years later, admitted to firing those fatal shots. He died a free man this February, as US law prevents anyone from being tried twice for the same crime. But meanwhile, Peltier remains caged up in a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania.

While friends, family, and a long list of supporters continue to fight for Leonard Peltier’s freedom, he remains in prison. For some, he is a political prisoner.

Leonard’s sister, Betty, thinks this is no accident, because “the government’s doing everything just to keep him there – he’s a scapegoat.”

Betty has traveled thousands of miles to the United States penitentiary in Lewisburg for a rare visit, but only family can enter the prison walls.

“I’d just like to have my brother home, we plan on living together for the rest of our lives, me and him,” Betty said.

All these years, Betty and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee have been fighting to prove his innocence.

Betty Peltier also insists that “they had no evidence at all that he killed anybody, and that’s in the court records.”

After being denied an appeal numerous times, Peltier will be up for parole in 2009.

“I have a good feeling he’s gonna get out this time, and we just need people to stand up and demand that they right a wrong,” Betty said.

They petitioned Clinton and Bush for executive clemency, but to no avail. This time, Betty Peltier’s hopes lie with Obama.

“I kind of see hope in our new president, at least I’m hoping. He promised to help everybody, not just the rich and the famous, you know, help the low man.“

Peltier has lost his health and half of his adult life in prison, but to him, every day still counts.