Cuba Demands Release Of Political Prisoners

March 11, 2008 at 11:15 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

The five Cuban men held in US prison.

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 11, 2008) – Cuba has renewed demands for the release of five of its agents being held in the United States for nearly ten years now.

Cuban Ambassador to the Philippines, Jorge Rey Jiménez, said the five — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González — were sentenced for fighting the terrorism that has been launched against Cuba from the US for the last 48 years.

He said the five men came to the US in the early 1990s in response to the wave of violence directed at Cuba by mercenary groups from the Cuban exile community in southern Florida.

They were sent to infiltrate the network of terrorist groups that had been attacking Cuba. Washington became aware of their presence in the US and were arrested in 1998 and prosecuted on a variety of charges, including failure to register as foreign agents. Three were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage; one was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

“Having infiltrated Cuban extremist groups in Miami, the Cuban Mafia, which the US authorities organize and protect, their intelligence was impeding terrorist operations that have cost our country over 3,000 dead and hundreds of injured and maimed,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Jiménez said Cuba is demanding the immediate release from US prisons of the five anti-terrorist fighters, now known as the “Cuban Five,” who have been held as political prisoners.

A Miami jury convicted them on all counts after a seven-month trial. It was the longest trial in the history of the US at the time. During the trial, the attorneys for the five Cuban men requested a change of venue from Miami to another city five times. The judge denied each request.

In December 2001, two of the five men — Gerardo Hernández and Rene Gonzalez –were sentenced to life in prison — one to 19 years, and the other to 15 years.

But the Cuban Ambassador said: “These five compatriots were unjustly sentenced at a trial which was declared illegal and void, by a panel of the Atlanta appeal court judges. Also the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions declared the Cuban Five innocent and their trial, which was held in Miami, illegal.”

He said a worldwide campaign seeking justice for the five political prisoners is gathering strength. “They must be freed,” he said.

In January, a strong demand for the release of the five men was also made at the World Social Forum in Madrid. Filipino human rights advocates in Manila are also demanding the release of the five Cuban political prisoners, Jiménez said. (Mindanao Examiner)




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