Attorney General Eric Holder issued the statement below following the death of Nelson Mandela:
"I join President Obama in expressing my heartfelt condolences to the people of South Africa, and the entire Mandela family, on the passing of Nelson Mandela.
The world has lost an extraordinary pioneer and an unsurpassed champion for freedom and justice. As a lawyer and an activist, he inspired millions -- not only in South Africa, but around the globe -- to stand united against oppression and apartheid. As a statesman, he fought throughout his career to advance democratic values, working tirelessly to combat poverty, AIDS, and human rights abuses. As South Africa's first democratically-elected president, he sought to bring healing to a torn and deeply divided country. And he became much more than the "father of a nation.'
Like so many -- in every corner of the globe -- I have regarded President Mandela as a personal hero for decades. I was inspired years ago by his courage and his devotion to improving the lives of those around him. And when I had the privilege of meeting with him, as Deputy Attorney General, I found him to be a remarkable man and a brilliant and principled leader. His legacy will endure, and his important work will go on, in the efforts of all who continue to speak out for peace, for freedom, for justice, and for the dignity to which every human being is entitled. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing today, and will hold his friends, loved ones, and countrymen and -women in my thoughts and prayers."