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HomeAbout NBHRNHuman RightsHilton Fernández says the FBI is investigating him

Hilton Fernández says the FBI is investigating him

The independentista leader denounces federal authorities’ actions

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera / The Associated Press
February 11, 2009

Today, Machetero leader Hilton Fernández denounced the fact that two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents went yesterday to the place he lives in Trujillo Alto, and told a security guard that they are investigating him.

“We denounce the FBI’s presence in our community as an attempt to intimidate and paralyze the work of the Avelino González Claudio Defense Committee,” said Fernández, who was accused along with González Claudio of the theft of millions of dollars from a Wells Fargo depot in Hartford, Connecticut in 1982.

Today Fernández went to the federal building and had lunch in the cafeteria, “to make it crystal clear, with our presence here, that the FBI and its repressive agencies are not going to intimidate our community or the compañeros and collaborators and volunteers working on the defense of compañero González Claudio.

“They went to my community, which is a (housing) cooperative. Since the 80’s, they haven’t been around persecuting me. I am the political spokesperson of the Committee of Family and Friends of Avelino González Claudio, who was arrested exactly one year ago,” he said at an improvised press conference, under a tarp where the media gathered in front of the federal court.

The Associated Press made unsuccessful attempts to get a reaction from the FBI. Two voicemails left on the cell phone of the agency’s spokesperson and at this office were not immediately answered.

The independentist leader, who served a little more than three years in prison for charges related to the theft, associated the FBI agents’ visit with the expected arrival of González Claudio’s attorney, Jim Bergenn, to begin preparing his defense.

González Claudio, who federal authorities also connect with the Boricua Popular Army, known as The Macheteros, was arrested February 7, 2008, in Manatí and held without bail in Guaynabo. He was later transferred to a maximum-security prison in Hartford. He had been a fugitive since 1985.

According to Fernández, the security guard at the housing cooperative wrote a report about the two FBI agents’ visit, one of whom was identified as Pacheco.

He stated that the guard told the two agents that Fernández is a “serious and calm” man, and, according to his report, the agents responded: “You better believe that this is a serious matter, and a serious investigation, more serious than you might believe.”

“It seems to me that the object is to intimidate our community, intimidate the administration of the cooperative with the purpose of affecting our preparation (for González Claudio’s defense),” he pointed out.

The Associated Press contacted the housing cooperative, but the administrator was not in her office at the moment, according to her secretary.

The FBI considers The Macheteros to be a terrorist organization. However, the Puerto Rican independence movement has for decades accused the United States of political persecution.

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