Prisoner Snubs Offer of Clemency

The Hartford Courant (CT.) - August 15, 1999

In an apparent effort to boost his wife's standing with the NY State Hispanic community, President Clinton recently announced his intention to offer clemency to 16 imprisoned Puerto Rican terrorists. The move was made in such haste that the terrorists appear not to have been consulted. Consequently, they are, in fact, spurning the President's offer of clemency.

As the AP item from the Hartford Courant below indicates, one of the terrorists referred to the standard conditions of clemency - renouncing violence, and not associating with criminal elements - to be insulting. The fact that the terrorists were asked by Clinton to retroactively submit a request for clemency calls into question the President's claim that this case has been under review for "many months". Rather, sources in Washington point out that this offer of clemency occurred concurrent with Mrs. Clinton's decision to run for the NY Senate seat.

While the National Security agencies are expected to oppose clemency, the President is not likely to heed them. As he has demonstrated in the past, Mr. Clinton is well able to override his government agencies when he himself has a vested interest in doing so. This just underscores the lack of credibility in the President's excuse that he cannot grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard because the same National Security Agencies oppose him on the issue.

*****AP article follows:

(AP) SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO, August 14, 1999.

A Puerto Rican independence activist imprisoned for anti-U.S. bomb attacks says he is unlikely to accept an "insulting" conditional clemency offer from President Clinton, a local newspaper reported Saturday.

Elizam Escobar is the fourth of the 16 convicted activists to speak out against the pardon offer, which the Clinton administration made Wednesday.

In the 1980's, Escobar and 10 other prisoners were convicted of sedition against the United States in their fight for Puerto Rican independence. They were members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which staged 130 bomb attacks on U.S. political and military targets from 1974 to 1983.

Escobar, now in a federal prison in Oklahoma, has served nearly two decades of a 60-year sentence. He told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper that the clemency offer is too restrictive and that he does not expect any of his colleagues to accept it either.

The Justice Department said the 16 activists are eligible for clemency if they renounce violence, agree not to meet with other people with criminal records and write to request clemency. Eleven prisoners would be released immediately, two more after serving additional time, and three would have unpaid fines lifted.

"What I can't accept is that it restricts my association with the independence movement as a condition of probation," Escobar said, quoted by the paper. "They want to keep punishing us and exclude us from political life on the island."

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