Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera's Sentence Commuted by Barack Obama

Before leaving office, President Barack Obama issued a record number of commutations and pardons, including granting the release of Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera. Lopez Rivera, now 74, has spent more than half of his life incarcerated due to a "seditious conspiracy" conviction. US prosecutors accused the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional group, of which Rivera was a member, of carrying out 140 bombings on military bases and other government installations. López Rivera has always denied involvement in any fatal attacks. "For me, human life is sacred," he told the Guardian in 2016. "You cannot get a better world by being unjust yourself."

Past advocates of López Rivera's pardon include former US president Jimmy Carter, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bernie Sanders and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. NPAP attorney member Jan Susler of the People's Law Office in Chicago, who represented López Rivera, told NPR of his conspiracy conviction: "They were sentenced not because of what they did but because of who they were politically. Seditious conspiracy is really a thought crime. It's agreeing to be part of challenging the United States government. And in this case it was agreeing to be part of the FALN."