The United States government announced Tuesday the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been imprisoned in the U.S. for 36 years for his struggle to free Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule. Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Lopez’ sentence, which will expire on May 17, according to a list of commutations announced by the White House.
Celebrations started almost immediately, while Clarissa Lopez, daughter of Lopez, will hold a press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. in reaction to his release at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Lopez was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and upon returning to Chicago after serving in the Vietnam War, he joined the struggle for Puerto Rican rights and participated in acts of civil disobedience and other actions.
In 1976, he joined the clandestine fight for the independence of Puerto Rico as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation. In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of “conspiracy” for his militancy in the FALN.
Also Chelsea Manning will be freed. Obama commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US Army Intelligence Analyst serving 35-years for releasing classified information. Chelsea’s attorney Nancy Hollander, who spoke with President Obama’s counsel earlier today, confirms that “Chelsea will walk out of Fort Leavenworth a free woman in four months, on May 17th.”
The Chelsea Manning Support Network applauds this decision by outgoing President Barack Obama, and extends our heartfelt gratitude. A commutation can not be reversed by a future president.
“Today’s fantastic news goes a long way to making amends for the brutal treatment Chelsea was illegally subjected to while awaiting trial at the Quantico Marine Brig. It’s tragic that Chelsea had to spend 7-years imprisoned for releasing documents that should never have been classified in the first place, and were clearly in the public interest,” stated Chelsea Manning Support Network co-founder Jeff Paterson. “All of us who worked on Chelsea’s behalf are overjoyed.”