• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Statement on Luis Kutner

August 13, 2020

Responding to the role of Luis Kutner in Amnesty International, who died in 1993 and may be linked to the murder of Fred Hampton, Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:

Activist Luis Kutner is credited in his obituary with having co-founded Amnesty International in 1961. This is not true, but Kutner was on the advisory body of Amnesty International USA in the 60s, at a time when AI USA did not work on the USA, but only on human rights in other countries. This was due to Amnesty’s rules at the time that prohibited a person from working on their own country, in order to guarantee impartiality.

Kutner has been accused of being linked to the death of Black Panther Fred Hampton, allegedly telling the FBI he had weapons days before the FBI raid in which he was killed. There are declassified FBI records that indicate this, though no formal investigation was conducted nor was any direct evidence uncovered.

This allegation even at the time was independent of Kutner’s association with Amnesty, and if such information had come to the organization’s attention at the time, Amnesty International would have unequivocally repudiated any such actions by him.

Kutner died in 1993. He was not associated with AIUSA or any other part of the global Amnesty International movement to our knowledge at the time of his death and does not appear to have been involved with Amnesty for some time.

Any attempt to implicate Amnesty International in the allegations against Kutner is wrong and unfounded speculation based on minor and entirely unrelated associations he had with the organization.

Background and context

Following a detailed and lengthy internal search of its records and information provided by independent scholars who have conducted historical research into the organization, the only associations that came to light are that Kutner attended Amnesty International’s launch and that thereafter he sat briefly as a panel member of an advisory body for Amnesty International USA in the 1960’s At no point did he have an operational or decision-making role in the organization, national or internationally.

It is also important to note that in the 1960s, Amnesty International had a policy by which its national sections did not work on their own country in order to guarantee its impartiality. Thus, Amnesty International USA did not engage on issues in the USA but only on human rights outside the USA.

At the time of his association with Amnesty, Kutner was a widely-respected human rights activist and lawyer. Amnesty International was shocked to learn of his alleged involvement as an informant to the FBI; information that only became public in 2018, more than two and half decades after his death and even longer since any involvement he had with the organization.

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