Myrtle Poor Bear
Mr. Leonard Peltier was arrested in Canada on February 6,1976. He was extradited from Canada in December of the same year on the basis of an affidavit signed by Myrtle Poor Bear, a Native American woman known to have serious mental health problems.
To extradite Leonard Peltier from Canada, the U.S. Attorney and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created false affidavits of Myrtle Poor Bear, which they had coerced this frightened woman to sign, and which they knew to be false.
Poor Bear claimed to have been Leonard Peltier’s girlfriend at the time of the shootings, and to have been present during the shoot-out and witnessed the killings.
In Affidavit 1, dated February 19, 1976, Special Agents David Price and William Wood had Myrtle Poor Bear recount how it was she overheard the planning of the Northwest AIM group to lure Special Agents Coler and Williams to their deaths in an ambush. There is no claim Poor Bear witnessed the shoot-out, but that she heard Leonard Peltier order the agents killed beforehand, and that he later "confessed to her."
In Affidavit 2, dated February 23, 1976, Price and Wood had Poor Bear present herself as being Peltier's "girl friend," and as overhearing planning for an ambush. However, with this affidavit, Poor Bear was now presented as having witnessed Peltier killing the agents. Details on an escape route apparently were designed to explain away the Bureau's embarrassing inability to apprehend suspects at the scene of the shoot-out. Also the method of killing corresponds to the FBI's contrived "execution" scenario.
Affidavit 3, dated March 31, 1976, was eventually submitted to the Canadian courts. Here, the agents totally abandoned the notion of Poor Bear's having overheard planning for an ambush. Instead they had her provide considerable detail as an "eyewitness." No confession on the part of Leonard Peltier was alleged.
Leonard Peltier was extradited from Canada to the United States in December 1976.
Today, the government concedes that, in fact, Myrtle Poor Bear did not know Leonard Peltier, nor was she present at the time of the shooting. She later confessed she had given false statements after being pressured and terrorized by FBI agents. Myrtle Poor Bear sought to testify in this regard at Leonard Peltier’s trial. However, the judge barred her testimony on the grounds of mental incompetence.
In addition to being a violation of Leonard Peltier's rights, the United States government committed fraud on the court during the extradition proceedings and violated the sovereignty of Canada. The U.S. government has made no attempt to correct this wrong and, to date, the illegal extradition has not been corrected by the Canadian Court.