Lawmakers back release of terror leader

Jan. 26, 2011 at 1:54 PM
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A Chicago congressman is supporting parole for the leader of a Puerto Rican separatist group that waged a lethal bombing campaign.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and three other House members of Puerto Rican descent have written to the U.S. Parole Commission urging freedom for Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has served 29 years of a 70-year term for seditious conspiracy, armed robbery and twice scheming to escape prison, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.

Lopez Rivera, now 67, headed the Chicago branch of FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), which perpetrated a wave of explosions, murders, kidnappings and armored-car heists in the 1970s and early 1980s. He directed the takeovers of Jimmy Carter's Chicago campaign office and a Wisconsin National Guard armory in 1980 and the planting of five bombs in the Chicago area in 1979.

A parole examiner recommended against release Jan. 5.

The congressmen's letter calls Lopez Rivera the only Puerto Rican "convicted for politically motivated activities in the early 1980s who remains in prison."

Joseph Connor, whose father died in the FALN's 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern in New York, called the letter "despicable."

Chicago's U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, also opposes parole.

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