October 2011        

International

Update on the Miami Five


Very significant moves are taking place in the case of the five Cuban anti-terrorist activists imprisoned in the United States.
     The habeas corpus petitions presented by four of the Five—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and Antonio Guerrero—put forward the right of the Five to a new trial because of the US government having paid certain television, radio and print journalists.
     The exception is René González, the first of the Five to serve his full sentence of fifteen years, who is due for release on 7 October. René was also sentenced to three years’ probation, and as a US citizen he is expected to fulfil this requirement in the United States.
     American lawyers for the Five have presented compelling arguments for immediate habeas corpus relief. Using the Freedom of Information Act, they have revealed that the US government paid thousands of dollars to Miami television, radio and print journalists to write and print prejudiced and biased articles against the Five and against Cuba at the same time that they were conducting a prosecution against them. For example, during the trial the government gave37 million a year to Radio and TV Martí, which led numerous anti-Castro efforts.
     The lawyers argue that this government-funded propaganda was harmful and inflammatory and that this misconduct undermined the fundamental structure of the defendant’s trial and his sentence and therefore they must be annulled.
     René González’s three-year probation period is a serious cause for concern, as his life would be in danger from acts of retaliation that could be expected from the Miami terrorist gangs.
     His defence lawyer, Philip Horowitz, is considering legal action after a Miami judge denied González his request to travel to Cuba upon completing his sentence. “We are currently considering whether to request Judge Joan Lenard to reconsider her decision or to file an appeal with a higher-level court,” he said.
     On 16 September last Judge Lenard of South Florida District Court rejected a petition by René González to be allowed to travel to Cuba and to live there instead of remaining under a three-year probation in US territory.
     The defence lawyer said that the judge’s decision will not have an effect on González leaving prison on 7 October. However, he will not be allowed to go to Cuba for a permanent stay. He is expected to begin his three-year probation in the United States, though he is not obliged to stay in Miami during that time.
     We need to publicise these injustices and concerns in the media and government to bring about a speedy release and safe conduct for the Five.
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Background
Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and René González are serving between them four life sentences and seventy-five years’ imprisonment after being falsely accused by the US court in Miami in June 2001 of committing espionage and threatening the security of the United States.
     The Miami Five’s actions were never directed at the US government. They never harmed anyone, nor did they ever possess or use any weapons while in the United States. The Cuban Five’s mission was to stop terrorism.
     The Five pointed out vigorously in their defence that they were monitoring the actions of terrorist groups based in Miami so as to prevent further terrorist attacks on their country. More than three thousand Cubans have died as a result of such attacks.

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