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Free the Miami Five

by Ileana Gadea |
June 1, 2003
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San Francisco, CA - The Miami Five are five Cuban nationals - Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and René González. On June 8, 2001, they were convicted by the Federal District Court in Miami on charges ranging from espionage, to failure to register as agents of a foreign government, to conspiracy to commit murder.

While the U.S government claims to be fighting a 'war against terrorism,' it has a 40-year history of supporting terrorist acts against Cuba, including repeated attempts to assassinate the Cuban president, a series of hotel bombings and the bombing of a civilian airliner. The Miami Five, who actually were fighting against terrorism by gathering information on U.S.-sponsored terrorist groups in Miami, are held in U.S. prisons pending an appeal.

Patsy Behrend, a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, said, "Our concerns are the fact that they were not given a fair trial, they were given unfair sentences and there were restrictions on their families' visits."

None of the five Cubans had handled classified information or any information linked to U.S. national defense. The U.S. government conceded that the defendants had not transmitted secrets. However, Guerrero was convicted of espionage and was given the same sentence as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen, who had supplied numerous secret documents to the former Soviet Union.

The Five's defense lawyers asked to move the trial, since they could not receive a fair trial in Miami. The U.S. government denied their requests. Jurors complained that a crew from Television Marti, which is supportive of terrorist activities both in Cuba and against Cuban-American dissenters in Miami, was filming them and their license plates. The jurors told the judge that they felt pressured to convict. The court acknowledged the problem, but took no action to change the venue of the trial.

The U.S. government has tried to isolate the Miami Five. Since their arrest on Sept. 12, 1998 until Feb. 3, 2000, the Miami Five were kept in solitary confinement, in violation of U.S. prison regulations. The United States has denied visas to Adriana Pérez O'Connor and Olga Salanueva, the wives of Gerardo and René.

The Five have an appeal pending before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. But they were placed in widely dispersed prisons, hampering their appeal preparation and hindering family and diplomatic contact. The Five were also placed in solitary confinement for a period of time in an obvious attempt to further hamper their efforts to prepare for the appeal.

To learn more about the international campaign free the Miami Five, call the National Network on Cuba, 415-566-8560 or email [email protected]. For more information on the Five, go to the website www.antiterroristas.cu.

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