[Ppnews] Grand Jury To Attempt To Elicit Info on Rebels

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 10 19:40:48 EST 2008

Three Summoned to Brooklyn Federal Court For 
Suspected Ties To Puerto Rican Independence Movement
by Brooklyn Eagle 
(<mailto:edit at brooklyneagle.net>edit at brooklyneagle.net), 
published online 01-10-2008

Grand Jury To Attempt To Elicit Info on Rebels
By Ryan Thompson
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CADMAN PLAZA EAST – Three Puerto Ricans with 
alleged ties to the independence movement in 
Puerto Rico have been subpoenaed to appear in 
Brooklyn Federal Court Friday to answer to a grand jury.

Graphic designer Tania Frontera, social worker 
Christopher Torres and filmmaker Julio Antonio 
Pabon are due in U.S. District Court for the 
Eastern District of New York Friday. There are 
also indications that the FBI is trying to locate 
and subpoena Hector Rivera, one of the founders 
of the Welfare Poets, a New York-based collective of activists and poets.

Expected to have caused organized protests in 
Puerto Rico Thursday night, the investigation of 
these individuals by the FBI and U.S. Department 
of Justice also sparked New York City Council 
members to gather on the steps of City Hall 
Thursday in opposition to the subpoenas.

“They may just be rounding up people without any 
connection,” said Councilwoman Melissa 
Mark-Viverito, who led the gathering of elected 
officials. Council members Annabel Palma, Gale 
Brewer, Miguel Martinez and Rosie Mendez joined 
her in the sentiment. They are all worried that 
the government is using the grand jury mechanism 
as a means of stifling legitimate dissent.

“We are concerned with these tactics of using 
grand jury intimidation and harassing” those who 
support or oppose movements that are legal and 
constitutionally protected, said Mark-Viverito. 
She said that she was unaware of any possible 
connection between these individuals and any insurgent groups.

The subpoenas are thought to be part of a probe 
into the Macheteros, a rebel pro-independence 
group in Puerto Rico whose leader, Filiberto 
Ojeda Rios, was killed by FBI agents in a 
shootout in 2005. The Macheteros (“the Machete 
Wielders”) are best known for their $7 million 
Wells Fargo robbery in Connecticut in 1983, one 
of the biggest cash robberies in U.S. history.

Media sources connected more intimately with the 
events in Puerto Rico have characterized the 
three individuals as people who are somewhat 
involved with the Puerto Rican independence 
movement. El Diario/La Prensa called the three 
individuals “Boricua pro-independence activists,” 
and The Latin America Solidarity Coalition, a 
grassroots U.S.-based association of Latin 
American groups, said that it “condemns the FBI 
harassment of Puerto Rican independence activists.”

“These FBI visits and the subsequent serving of 
these subpoenas are designed to put those who 
refuse to cooperate with this ‘fishing 
expedition’ in jail, and to intimidate the Puerto 
Rican community as a whole,” the coalition said in a statement.

Spokesmen from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office 
in Brooklyn said that they cannot comment on or 
confirm grand jury proceedings, which under federal law are secret.

However, it appears clear that the subpoenas were 
issued in order for a grand jury to question the 
three individuals, not to indict or charge them with any crimes.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007

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