Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Oscar López Rivera, a victory for the Puerto Rican independence activist who is considered to be one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners, THE GUARDIAN reports.
In his final days in office, Obama has issued a record number of pardons and commutations, including granting the release of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, the US army soldier who became one of the most famous whistleblowers in modern times.
López Rivera, whose commutation was announced on Tuesday along with those of 208 others, has been incarcerated for 35 years for his role in fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence.
The 74-year-old, who has spent more than half of his life behind bars, was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” for plotting against the US. The US government had also classified him as a terrorist.
If Obama had not intervened, he would have remained in captivity until 26 June 2023, five months after his 80th birthday.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, he said he still believes in what he described as the “noble cause” of full sovereignty for his Caribbean birthplace, which is classified as a US “territory.”
López Rivera eventually became a member of a clandestine group called Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, which argued that armed force was a justified tactic in the fight for Puerto Rican independence. US prosecutors accused the group of carrying out 140 bombings on military bases, government offices and financial buildings. Read more at THE GUARDIAN.