[Ppnews] NBHRN report & article on Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera’s parole hearing

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 6 10:09:44 EST 2011


January 5, 2011

NBHRN report on Puerto Rican political prisoner 
Oscar López Rivera’s parole hearing

What happened today

On Wednesday, January 5, after a remarkably 
biased and tainted parole hearing, U.S. Parole 
Commission hearing examiner Mark Tanner announced 
he would recommend that Puerto Rican political 
prisoner Oscar López Rivera be denied parole, and 
that he either be held in prison until his 
mandatory release date in 2023 or serve another 
15 years before being reconsidered for parole, whichever comes first.

Oscar was brought to the hearing handcuffed to a 
chain around his waist. His attorney Jan Susler’s 
protestations were overruled, with prison staff 
asserting the warden had ordered the highly 
unusual measure. Eight Bureau of Prisons 
personnel constituted an exaggerated and intentionally intimidating presence.

Over the vehement objection of Oscar’s attorney, 
Tanner entertained live testimony from four 
people he characterized as “victims” — a wounded 
survivor and family members of people who died in 
the 1975 explosion in New York’s Fraunces Tavern 
— even though Oscar was never accused or 
convicted of anything related to the explosion.

Susler, noting that the Puerto Rico Bar 
Association had petitioned for observer status at 
the hearing, but that the Parole Commission 
failed to respond to the request of that 
venerable institution, vehemently objected to the 
observer status of retired FBI agent Donald 
Wofford. Tanner overruled her objections.

Tanner provided Susler a 7 page letter from 
Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a 
political diatribe opposing parole, listing acts 
unrelated to Oscar and unsupported conclusions 
about his role in the clandestine movement.

Tanner first interrogated Oscar about his role in 
the offense, insisting that he admit or deny his 
guilt and, further, that he talk about his role 
in the FALN, the seditious conspiracy, and the 
conspiracy to escape. Insisting that Oscar was a 
leader, Tanner was not interested in Oscar’s 
recounting of his own history of having been 
drafted into the infantry to fight an unjust U.S. 
war against the people of Vietnam. He was equally 
uninterested in Oscar’s recounting of the history 
of repression of and violence against the 
independence movement, as well as the history of 
the Bureau of Prisons’ sting operations and false accusations against him.

Tanner demonstrated more interest in what the 
“victims” had to say, and paid close attention to 
their misinformed vitriol and name-calling spewed against Oscar.

Susler attempted to bring Tanner’s attention to 
the matter at hand, reciting the criteria for 
release on parole and demonstrating how the 
evidence proved that Oscar meets the criteria:
1) that in the past 20 years of prison, he has 
not been accused of a violating a single prison rule;
2) that his release would not depreciate the 
seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect 
for the law; and 3) that release would not jeopardize the public welfare.

She pointed out President Clinton’s determination 
in 1999 that Oscar’s sentence was 
disproportionately lengthy and that his offer of 
clemency would have resulted in Oscar’s release 
in September of 2009. She focused Tanner on the 
fact that the political prisoners released as a 
result of the Clinton clemency are productive 
citizens, fully integrated into civil society. 
She noted the Parole Commission’s decision to 
release Carlos Alberto Torres in July of 2010. 
And she recited in detail the support for his 
release from virtually the entire civil society 
in Puerto Rico, drawing Tanner’s attention not 
only to the support letters from thousands of 
people, but noting the support from the 
pro-statehood resident commissioner to the U.S. 
Congress who represents the close to 4 million people of Puerto Rico.

Oscar’s statements and those of his lawyer fell 
on deaf ears. While Tanner admitted that Oscar 
had the best possible Salient Factor score, and 
that he had served 356 months, which he 
characterized as “way beyond” the guidelines 
minimum requirement of 100 months, he 
nevertheless announced his negative 
recommendation. Susler immediately responded that 
such a recommendation ignored the express will of 
the Puerto Rican people and their supporters.

The recommendation denying parole was the goal of 
the right wing, which in the few days prior to 
the parole hearing, created an environment of 
lies and innuendos in the media, reminiscent of 
the right wing reaction to the 1999 clemency. 
They barraged the Parole Commission with phone 
calls opposing parole. However, when Oscar’s 
supporters called, the Commission stopped answering the phones.


Plan of action

The NBHRN will be mounting a campaign to ask the 
Parole Commission to reject Tanner’s 
recommendation and to order Oscar’s release on 
parole. We will be asking people to:

* collect signatures on a new letter to the 
Commission (to be provided soon), thinking more 
broadly in terms of different sectors to approach;

* phone the Commission with messages of support for Oscar’s release;

* thank the elected officials, religious and 
community leaders for their support and encourage 
them to write another letter to ask the 
Commission to reject the recommendation and to order Oscar’s release;

* form delegations of influential people to ask 
for meetings with the Commission;

* write to Oscar and express support.

  The NBHRN is scheduling a nat'l conference call 
for this weekend. We will be sending a follow up email shortly afterwards.

Thank you all for your work on behalf of the 
Network and Oscar López Rivera. Together, we will free him..
Alejandro
*************************************************************
English translation follows Spanish

Duro reves para un prisionero politico boricua
Recomendarán que cumpla más aZos de cárcel
López Rivera fue llevado a la sesión de ayer 
encadenado y custodiado por ocho funcionarios de 
la penitenciaría.  (Archivo / AP)Por José A. Delgado / jdelgado at elnuevodia.com
6 enero 2011
http://www.elnuevodia.com/durorevesparalopez-857537.html

WASHINGTON - “Estoy preparado para lo que venga”.

Así reaccionó ayer el prisionero político 
puertorriqueZo Oscar López Rivera, según su 
abogada Jan Susler, al escuchar a un oficial 
examinador anunciar que le recomendará a los 
miembros de la Junta Federal de Libertad Bajo 
Palabra que cumpla entre 12 y 15 aZos adicionales de cárcel.

Mark Tanner, oficial examinador de la Junta 
Federal, encabezó ayer en la prisión de Terre 
Haute (Indiana) una sesión en que se pasó revista 
a la petición de López Rivera, de 67 aZos, para 
que se le otorgue libertad bajo palabra.

López Rivera, convicto en 1981 de “conspiración 
sediciosa” por sus vínculos con el grupo 
clandestino independentista Fuerzas Armadas de 
Liberación Nacional (FALN), ya ha cumplido 29 
aZos y nueve meses de cárcel de una sentencia de 70 aZos.

Pese a que el entonces presidente Bill Clinton le 
otorgó clemencia en agosto de 1999 -la cual en 
aquel momento López Rivera rechazó-, el oficial 
examinador convirtió la sesión, de acuerdo con lo 
narrado por Susler, en un debate sobre el 
atentado de la FALN en contra del Fraunces Tavern 
de Nueva York, ocurrido en 1975 y en el que murieron cuatro personas.

“Si hubiesen tenido evidencia en su contra le 
hubiesen acusado por esos sucesos”, dijo Susler, 
enojada por la determinación del oficial 
examinador de darle foro en la sesión a familiares de víctimas de ese atentado.

Las propias normas de la Junta indican que el 
oficial examinador debió centrarse en asuntos 
como si López Rivera reconoce la gravedad de su 
ofensa, si ha tenido buena conducta y si su 
liberación representaría una amenaza “para el bienestar público”.

El ex agente del Negociado Federal de 
Investigaciones (FBI), Donald Wofford, quien se 
ha opuesto a la liberación de miembros de las 
FALN, estuvo también en la sesión, pero no habló.

“El interrogatorio del examinador parecía el de 
un agente del FBI”, sostuvo Susler, a quien le 
habían indicado que el oficial conduciría la 
audiencia por videoconferencia desde Maryland.

López Rivera fue llevado a la sesión encadenado y 
custodiado por ocho funcionarios de la 
penitenciaría. “Se hizo todo un espectáculo”, denunció Susler.

CampaZa conservadora

En los últimos días sectores conservadores, 
encabezados por el comentarista Dick Morris, han 
estado en campaZa en contra de la excarcelación 
de López Rivera, quien este aZo puede convertirse 
en el prisionero político puertorriqueZo que más 
tiempo ha estado encarcelado, superando a su 
colega Carlos Alberto Torres, liberado el verano pasado después de 30 aZos.

Susler indicó que la Junta Federal de Libertad 
Bajo Palabra puede reunirse en marzo y entonces 
aceptar o rechazar la recomendación del oficial examinador.

A arreciar la lucha

“Ahora hay que incrementar la campaZa”, dijo 
Susler, al indicar que López Rivera está 
entusiasmado con el fuerte apoyo que ha recibido 
de diversos sectores de la sociedad 
puertorriqueZa, incluido políticos como el 
comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi, 
congresistas, alcaldes y líderes religiosos.

Para Susler, lo más duro fue ver cómo el oficial 
examinador “ignora la voluntad del pueblo de 
Puerto Rico” a favor de un prisionero político 
que ha estado ya tres décadas privado de su libertad.

Si la Junta Federal de Libertad Bajo Palabra 
rechaza la excarcelación inmediata de López 
Rivera, su próxima oportunidad sería en 15 aZos.

Pero, el oficial examinador reconoció que si la 
conducta de López Rivera es “buena” -como lo ha 
sido durante las últimas dos décadas según el 
propio Negociado de Prisiones-, tendría derecho a ser liberado en el 2023.
******************************************************************************
Tough reverse for a Puerto Rican political prisoner
Parole Commission will recommend more time in prison
By José A. Delgado / jdelgado at elnuevodia.com
January 6, 2011
http://www.elnuevodia.com/durorevesparalopez-857537.html

WASHINGTON - “I’m prepared for whatever comes.”

That was the reaction yesterday of Puerto Rican 
political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, according 
to his attorney Jan Susler, on listening to a 
hearing examiner announce that he would recommend 
to the members of the U.S. Parole Commission that 
he serve between 12 and 15 more years in prison.

Mark Tanner, the U.S. Parole Commission’s hearing 
examiner, convened a hearing yesterday in the 
Terre Haute (Indiana) prison, to review the 
request of López Rivera, 67 years old, for release on parole.

López Rivera, convicted in 1981 of “seditious 
conspiracy” for his connection to the clandestine 
independentista Armed Forces of National 
Liberation (FALN), has already served 29 years 
and nine months in prison of his 70 year sentence.

In spite of the fact that former president Bill 
Clinton granted him clemency in August of 1999 ­ 
which at the time López Rivera rejected ­ the 
hearing examiner converted the hearing, according 
to Susler, into a debate over the FALN’s 1975 
bombing of FrauncesTavern in New York in which four people died.

“If they had evidence that Oscar was involved in 
that bombing, they would have accused him of 
participating,” said Susler, angry at the hearing 
examiner’s decision to provide a forum at the 
hearing to family members of those who died in the bombing.

The Commission’s rules provide that the hearing 
examiner focus on issues such as whether López 
Rivera accepts the seriousness of his offense, if 
he has good conduct in prison, and if his release 
would pose a threat to public welfare.

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 
agent Donald Wofford, who has opposed the release 
of FALN members, was also at the hearing, but he did not speak.

“The hearing examiner’s questioning seemed like 
what an FBI agent would ask,” maintained Susler, 
who had been told that the hearing examiner would 
conduct the hearing by videoconference from Maryland.

López Rivera was brought to the hearing in chains 
and was monitored by eight prison officials. 
“They put on a show,” Susler denounced.

Conservative campaign

In the last few days, conservative sectors, led 
by the commentator Dick Morris, have waged a 
campaign against the release of López Rivera, who 
this year could become the longest imprisoned 
Puerto Rican political prisoner, surpassing his 
colleague Carlos Alberto Torres, who was paroled 
this summer after serving 30 years in prison.

Susler indicated that the U.S. Parole Commission 
may meet in March and then accept or reject the 
recommendation of the hearing examiner.

The struggle will get stronger

“Now we must augment the campaign,” said Susler, 
indicating that López Rivera is enthused by the 
strong support he has received from various 
sectors of Puerto Rican society, including 
politicians like resident commissioner Pedro 
Pierluisi, members of Congress, mayors and religious leaders.

For Susler, the hardest part was to see how the 
hearing examiner “ignored the will of the people 
of Puerto Rico” who support a political prisoner 
who has already spent three decades deprived of his freedom.

If the U.S. Parole Commission refuses to 
immediately release López Rivera, his next 
opportunity for parole will be in 15 years.

But the hearing examiner recognized that if López 
Rivera’s conduct is “good” ­ as it has been 
during the past two decades, which even the 
Bureau of Prisons admits ­ he would have the right to release in 2023.




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