House Dems Review FBI Raids in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's attorney general asked Congress to pressure the FBI to cooperate with his investigation into raids by the bureau against independence advocates in the U.S. territory.

In a briefing for House Democrats, Attorney General Roberto J. Sanchez Ramos said Tuesday that bureau officials have stonewalled his investigation of an FBI raid that left one militant independence leader dead.

"Only through open and frank communication between Commonwealth and federal authorities can we hope to best service our common interest in the protection of our citizens," Sanchez Ramos said.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he organized the briefing "to establish that there is a case."

In September 2005, FBI agents raided the house of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a fugitive leader of a pro-independence militant group. Witnesses and his widow allege that the FBI shot Ojeda Rios and let him bleed to death. The FBI has said Ojeda Rios shot first.

During a raid last month that the FBI has said was to thwart a "domestic terrorist attack" planned by independence militants, witnesses allege that agents used pepper spray on reporters and protesters.

The raids sparked an anti-FBI rally Sunday in San Juan that drew more than 1,000.

The FBI has refused to disclose the identities of the agents who took part in the raids or to provide more than a minimal amount of information, Sanchez Ramos said.

Eduardo Bhatia, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, read a statement from Puerto Rican Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vila at the briefing.

"It must be clearly stated that in no way does the Commonwealth wish to impinge on any FBI investigation related to domestic terrorist activity nor to infringe on the FBI's ability to do its job," Acevedo-Vila said in the statement. "But just like the FBI must do its job, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, through its attorney general, has the right to require and obtain due cooperation from federal agencies when exercising its legitimate investigative powers."

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington, said the complaints filed to the agency from members of Congress and Puerto Rican officials have been referred to the FBI Inspection Division for investigation and review.

"We can't comment further until that investigation is complete," Carter said.

At the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller, the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, also is investigating Ojeda Rios' death.