Washington Paid Journalists to Spin News against the Cuban Five
June 2, 2010
HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 3 (acn) Washington paid nearly $74,400 to journalists in Miami as part of a smear campaign against five Cuban antiterrorists that remain unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998.
“Fourteen names came back of journalists who it turns out were receiving covertly monies from the US government,” said Gloria La Riva, the coordinator of the committee.
Prensa Latina news agency reports that among those accepting bribes is reporter Pablo Alfonso, who received $58,600 for 16 articles published by El Nuevo Herald newspaper.
“This shows that the US Government was an accomplice to manipulating the jury by bribing journalists that violated the principles of impartiality and accuracy,” said Heidi Boghosian, from the US National Lawyers Guild.
She affirmed that constitutional rights were also violated in the process against the Cuban Five including the Sixth Amendment, which protects the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
La Riva stated that they began a campaign calling on US Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately move to remedy the situation and added that the only remedy can be the freeing of the Cuban Five and allowing them to go home.
She noted that the mission of the Cuban Five —who were monitoring anti-Cuba extremist groups that were planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against the island— was to save lives. “Yet they sit in prison while known terrorists and terror groups walk free in Miami,” she pointed out.
US secretly paid media to spin news against Cuban Five
June 3, 2010
Five Cuban men convicted on charges of espionage over ten years ago and put in prison may have been the victims of a smear campaign by the US government.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five claim to have evidence that proves the US paid tens of thousands of dollars to Miami journalists to spin stories against the five men to convince the jury to convict them.
The five men, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González were arrested in 1998. They said they were conducting a service to the Cuban government by monitoring terrorist groups in Miami and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was aware of their presence and task. The men are serving sentences varying from 15 years to two life terms.
The apparent new evidence highlights this case again and also brings up the topic of US-Cuba relations generally.
The evidence the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has found was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made 18 months ago.
“Fourteen names came back of journalists who it turns out were receiving covertly monies from the US government,” said Gloria La Riva, the coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.
In the United States, it is illegal for government agencies to transmit propaganda within US borders. This in a sense is what paying supposedly independent journalists did.
“We have begun a campaign today calling on [US Attorney General] Eric Holder to immediately move to remedy the situation and the only remedy can be the freeing of the Cuban Five and allowing them to go home,” said La Riva.
Riva stated that the mission of the Cuban Five was to save lives, yet they sit in prison while known terrorists and terror groups walk free in Miami.
“Unfortunately, President Obama administration is allowing this to continue,” said La Riva.
Various organizations, including the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty international found the original Cuban Five trial unfair.
“The US government violates and flaunts international law. It will have to be the court of millions of people in the world who know about the case of the Cuban Five, the Cuban people first and those of us in the US and other countries who know that the men are truly heroes and should be free,” said La Riva.
by Linn Washington, Jr.
Is it coincidence or conspiracy?
Supporters of five Cuban intelligence agents now serving lengthy sentences in US federal prison following controversial espionage convictions, say federal government documents detailing payments made by a US government-run anti-Castro propaganda operation to prominent Miami-area journalists prove a conspiracy.
Articles by those journalists and others, a federal appeals court once noted, contributed significantly to inflaming “pervasive community prejudice” in Miami which made it impossible for the agents known as the Cuban Five to receive a fair trial.
Others, however, claim it’s just coincidence that the same journalists who were paid $1,125 to $58,600 to appear on anti-Castro programs produced by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting before and during the trial for the Cuban Five also published scandalous articles about the Five in an influential Spanish language newspaper owned by the Miami Herald and in other local media.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, during a recent press conference in Washington, released documents listing both the amounts of federal funds paid to the journalists and the articles they published.
“This is a most blatant and outrageous example of government influence destroying the right to a fair trial and the right to appeal,” said Gloria La Riva, Coordinator of the National Committee.
“During the pre-trial period there were hundreds of articles on the Cuban Five and not one was favorable,” La Riva said.
La Riva, in her remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, said the payments to journalists, funneled through Radio and TV Marti, violated federal law banning domestic government propaganda.
The National Committee along with the National Lawyers Guild, the Partnership for Civil Justice and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition are calling upon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take immediate action to correct the unjust convictions of the Cuban Five – two of whom are serving life sentences.
The eight-month long trial for the Cuban Five that ended with their convictions in June 2001 is widely condemned as unfair partly due to the acid nature of the anti-Cuban Five news coverage that saturated Miami, where the trial was held despite repeated defense requests to have the proceeding moved away from a city containing America’s largest anti-Castro Cuban population.
A May 2005 legal analysis of the Cuban Five case conducted by the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission proclaimed the original trial “did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality” required for fair trials. The Commission’s report called for a new trial.
The US federal appeals court panel that ordered a new trial for the Cuban Five in August 2005 concluded that extensive pre-trial publicity and publicity during the trial, coupled with prosecutorial misconduct, created a "perfect storm” of gale-force unfairness against the defendants.
President George W. Bush's administration demanded a rehearing on that new trial grant and won a reversal in an August 2006 ruling that found insufficient evidence that news articles ‘impaired’ the right to an impartial jury.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Five.
Ironically the same federal prosecutors who claimed “objective” news coverage didn’t rob the Cuban Five of their fair trial rights cited negative coverage in Miami when seeking to relocate the trial of a Hispanic federal agent who filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the federal government.
This astounding flip-flop by federal prosecutors regarding the prejudicial impact of news coverage came exactly one year after the Five’s conviction. Federal appellate judges found no fault with this flip-flop.
The Cuban Five, who were dispatched to the US to monitor the activities of anti-Cuban organizations in the US, enjoy hero status in their Caribbean island nation.
These men have support from governmental leaders of a wide array of nations including Argentina, Belgium, Mali, Panama, Russia and Sweden. These leaders see the Five’s imprisonment as persecution, noting that vindictive federal authorities are even denying wives of two Five members permission to visit their incarderated husbands.
The five are: Antonio Guerrero; Fernando Gonzalez; Gerardo Hernandez; Ramon Labanino and Rene Gonzalez.
U.S. authorities consider the Cuban Five dangerous operatives inserted into the U.S. to undermine opponents of the Cuban government living in the U.S. and to spy on U.S. military installations and U.S. political and law enforcement activities.
The Five, however, say their U.S. mission sought to only prevent violence in Cuba by monitoring violent anti-Castro extremists in south Florida, some of whom were conducting terrorists attacks inside Cuba.
Curiously, the FBI arrested the Five in September 1998, three months after the Cuban government gave the FBI voluminous documentation on anti-Cuban government terrorists operating in south Florida, some of whom were openly engaged in paramilitary training.
“The Cuban government gave the FBI names, addresses, videos and documents. The FBI took the information, said they would get back to them but never did,” said Leonard Weinglass, the attorney handling appeals for the Cuban Five.
Weinglass is preparing to file a new round of appeals for the Cuban Five in mid-June that will include evidence of the government payments to those journalists who later authored negative articles.
“No one knew at the time of the trial about the heavy hand of government interference. The reporting was very prejudicial,” observed Weinglass, who didn’t represent the Five at their original trial.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is engaged in a separate legal battle to pry additional documents from the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting regarding its payments to journalists. The office is s refusing to release these.
Some see similarities in government payments to journalists like Pablo Alfonso (who received $58,600 during the Five’s detention and trial period, during which time he wrote 16 negative articles), with the much criticized payments the Bush Administration provided journalists to advocate for its No Child Left Behind education program.
One of those Bush-financed "journalists," conservative media personality Armstrong Williams, received $240,000 in payments…payments that a 2005 GAO report subsequently declared illegal.
Yet a more accurate comparison of government-journalist collusion is the FBI's secret employment of news media sources to generate negative publicity during its infamous COINTELPRO assaults against African-American and anti-Vietnam War activists during the late 1960s and early 1970s. COINTELPRO actions included interference with court proceedings in an effort to win convictions.
“Much of the Bureau’s propaganda efforts involved giving information or articles to “friendly” media sources,” stated a 1976 U.S. Senate report on the illegal COINTELPRO actions.
The deliberate journalistic sabotage of the Cuban Five trial by paid-off journalists, as detailed in the documents released by the National Committee, apparently is not news considered worthy of reporting by mainstream U.S. media, which has blacked out the story.
A post-press conference examination found no next-day coverage in domestic mainstream media in the news data bases of Google, LEXIS and Yahoo.
“The U.S. news media hasn’t covered the Cuban Five story sufficiently,” says National Committee Coordinator Gloria La Riva.
Linn Washington is a founding member of the new collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening. His work, and that of fellow journalists Dave Lindorff, John Grant and Charles Young, is available at: www.thiscantbehappening.net
Revelan pago de EE.UU. para campaña contra los Cinco Héroes
2 de junio de 2010
La Habana, 2 jun (AIN) Washington pagó cerca de 74 mil 400 dólares a periodistas de Miami por la campaña propagandística en contra de los cinco antiterroristas cubanos, prisioneros en EE.UU., desde hace casi 12 años.
Las revelaciones, presentadas hoy en conferencia de prensa por el Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco en EE.UU., muestran al reportero Pablo Alfonso, quien recibió 58 mil 600 dólares por 16 artículos aparecidos en el diario El Nuevo Herald, informa la agencia de noticias Prensa Latina.
Esta prueba demuestra que el gobierno estadounidense se convirtió en un cómplice en la manipulación del jurado al pagar a varios periodistas para que se apartaran de los principios de imparcialidad y exactitud, señaló Heidi Boghosian, del Gremio Nacional de Abogados norteamericanos
Boghosian expresó que las garantías fundamentales previstas en la Constitución de Estados Unidos fueron irrespetadas en el proceso seguido contra Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero y René González.
Asimismo, declaró que existió un plan concertado para corromper el proceso judicial e inclinar el resultado a sentencias condenatorias y privar a los acusados de la Sexta Enmienda, preciado derecho a un juicio justo por un jurado imparcial.
Gloria La Riva, coordinadora del Comité Nacional norteamericano, reiteró que las pruebas reveladas reflejan que Miami nunca pudo ser el lugar para realizar el juicio a los cinco luchadores por la paz
Los Cinco fueron arrestados en la madrugada del 12 de septiembre de 1998 en la ciudad de Miami y su caso sacó a la luz la historia de terrorismo practicada por casi 50 años desde Estados Unidos contra la nación cubana.
Acusan a gobierno EEUU de influir en juicio a cinco cubanos
por Luis Alonso Lugo
WASHINGTON -- Activistas acusaron el miércoles al gobierno estadounidense de pagar secretamente a periodistas de Miami para que sus artículos influenciaran a los miembros de jurado que halló culpables de espionaje a cinco cubanos en el 2001.
Gloria La Riva, coordinadora nacional del Comité Nacional para la Liberación de los Cinco Cubanos, dijo que la Oficina de Transmisiones a Cuba (OCB por sus siglas en inglés y ente del gobierno estadounidense que opera Radio y TV Martí) efectuó pagos a periodistas que trabajaban para medios independientes de Miami entre noviembre de 1999 y diciembre del 2001, coincidiendo así con la detención y el juicio.
"Lo que convierte a estos pagos secretos tan escandalosos es que fueron efectuados por el mismo gobierno que presentaba cargos contra los cinco cubanos. A ellos se le negó el derecho elemental del debido proceso durante su juicio", dijo La Riva.
Sin embargo, ni La Riva ni los abogados que la acompañaron durante la conferencia de prensa presentaron pruebas de que los pagos fueran realizados con el objetivo específico de influenciar a los miembros del jurado.
El Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), instancia del gobierno federal que supervisa a OCB, calificó las acusaciones como "infundadas" y dijo en un comunicado que "OCB no pagó a reporteros locales para influenciar la cobertura" del juicio a los cubanos.
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González y René González fueron declarados culpables en el 2001 de intentar infiltrarse en bases militares estadounidenses en la década de 1990.
El editor del Miami Herald renunció en el 2006, semanas después que el mismo diario reportó que 10 periodistas, incluyendo varios del propio diario, habían recibido miles de dólares del gobierno federal. Pero en aquella ocasión nadie mencionó una posible relación entre los pagos y el juicio.