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HomeAbout NBHRNHuman RightsAppearances of Puerto Rican independentists postponed

Appearances of Puerto Rican independentists postponed

Marí­a Vega, El diario La prensa (Click here to read original article)

January 12, 2008

New York—In their visits to independentists in New York, FBI agents have been showing “some twenty” photos of activists, apparently recently taken according to leaders of the movement, protesting in front of the federal court in Brooklyn.

The three activists subpoenaed to testify at a grand jury were taken by surprise, as were their families. Some didn’t realize until too late that they were speaking with federal agents, according to various sources. It was reported that in one case, agents were welcomed in the business belonging to the mother of one of those subpoenaed, because the mother believed they were customers. John Rojas, uncle of the social worker Christopher Torres, another of those served with a subpoena, said the agents left a card under the door at his house, and that later he received a call asking if he had received the subpoena to testify. “They thought I was Chris,” said Rojas, adding that the call made him worry and ask himself how closely they were following him.

During the protest it was announced that the grand jury subpoenas had been postponed until February. The attorney for Tania Frontera, the young filmmaker [sic] who has also been called to testify, said that he would file a motion to quash the subpoena, given that the subpoena is a violation of his client’s rights of freedom of association and expression.

As for the reason his client has been subpoenaed to the grand jury, Martin Stolar, the attorney, said, “I don’t understand why, but there has been harassment of the independence community in San Juan, New York and Chicago,” since the death of the leader of the Macheteros, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. Stolar said that if his motion is not successful, “she (Frontera) will probably exercise her right not to testify at the grand jury,” invoking the Constitution. According to participants in the protest, this is the same route that since the 1930’s has led independentists to federal prison for contempt.

Almost two decades have passed since the last time independentists were served with New York grand jury subpoenas for testimony. Now, “they’re approaching the children of veteran activists,” said one of the leaders, Frank Velgara.

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