Two Soviet eye specialists will arrive in the United States on Tuesday to examine an American Indian imprisoned at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., for killing two FBI agents, the State Department said yesterday.
Leonard Peltier, serving two life sentences for the 1975 slayings of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, did not ask for the examination but has no objections, said Mary Sue Hafner, deputy staff director and general counsel to the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Soviets maintain Peltier is not guilty of the slayings and is a political prisoner. The Soviets have embraced the Peltier case in an effort to counterattack repeated charges by the West of Soviet human-rights violations, a State Department official said.
Hafner said the government authorized the visit to the federal prison in Kansas because it wants the Soviets to know that the United States takes their concerns about human rights seriously. She also said it is hoped the visit will be reciprocated.
The Soviet request to examine Peltier, 42, a leader of the American Indian Movement, was made to House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) while he was in the Soviet Union in April.
Peltier will be examined and possibly treated for deteriorating eyesight by Eduard Avetisov, president of the Soviet Society of Ophthalmologists, and L.A. Katsnelson, according to Soviet spokesman Boris Malakhov.