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Concerns raised over arrest of activist

CBC NEWS
Thursday December 04, 2003 at 02:22 PM

A leading B.C. human rights advocate says Canada will be making a grave mistake if it extradites native rights activist John Graham to the United States. Graham was arrested in Vancouver on Monday in connection with the high-profile murder of another aboriginal activist Anna-Mae Pictou-Aquash.

She was shot dead in 1975 two years after joining native militants at the occupation of Wounded Knee.

But questions about the FBI's involvement in her death have never been answered.

Jennifer Wade, the founder of the Vancouver branch of Amnesty International, was at the extradition hearing of Leonard Peltier another man connected to Pictou-Aquash.

In 1976, Peltier was sent back to the U.S., where he was convicted of the murders of two FBI agents and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

The Canadian government has since lobbied for the U.S. to release him from prison.

Now Wade says Canada will make the same mistake if it extradites Peltier's friend, John Graham, for the murder of their colleague, Pictou-Aquash.

"She was very intelligent and knew far too much, and I think she was gotten rid of," she says."And John Graham definitely feels it was the FBI that got rid of her, and they're trying to pin the murder on him."

Wade notes Graham was one of the founders of the American Indian movement along with Peltier and Pictou-Aquash.

Wade says she doesn't know why police decided to move in on Graham this week, because he had been living in Vancouver for years.

American officials have until February to file an extradition bid for Graham. In the meantime, he remains in custody.

Copyright CBC 2004