High court won't review 'Cuban 5' espionage case
June 15, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the convictions of five Cuban intelligence agents who say they did not receive a fair trial because of strong anti-Castro sentiment in Miami.
The justices left in place the convictions of the so-called "Cuban Five," despite calls from Nobel Prize winners and international legal groups to review the case.
The five — Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina and Antonio Guerrero — were convicted on charges of acting as unregistered Cuban agents in the United States and of espionage conspiracy for attempting to penetrate U.S. military bases.
Hernandez was also convicted of murder conspiracy in the deaths of four Miami-based pilots whose planes, part of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, were shot down by Cuban fighter jets in 1996 off the island's coast.
The five have been lionized as heroes in Cuba, while exile groups say they were justly punished.
Ten Nobel Prize winners and lawyers and legal groups from more than a dozen countries groups urged the high court to step into the case.
The Obama administration contended that the convictions were fairly won, and that high court review was unnecessary.
A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Atlanta initially reversed the convictions, agreeing with the defendants that the trial should have been moved from Miami.
But the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the convictions.
Hernandez is serving a life sentence, while Gonzalez is serving a prison term of 15 years.
The appeals court ordered new sentences for the other three men, including two who originally were given life in prison.
The case is Campa v. U.S., 08-987.
Supreme Court Refuses To Review ''Cuban Five" Case
June 15, 2009
Washington (CBS4) - The convictions against the so "Cuban Five" will stand.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said they would not review the convictions of five men in Miami who were accused of being Cuban spies.
The men who composed the group; Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González were all Cuban nationals and belonged to the so called Wasp Network which spied on Cuban-American groups. They also tried to infiltrate the U.S. Southern Command headquarters in west Miami-Dade.
In 2001, the "Cuban Five" were convicted of espionage and other illegal activities. Hernandez was also convicted of murder conspiracy in the deaths of four Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were shot down off the coast of Cuba in 1996. Hernández was sentenced to two life terms, to be served consecutively; Labañino and Guerrero both received life terms; Fernando González was sentenced to 19 years and René Gonzáles was sentenced to 15 years.
The men appealed their convictions claiming the trial should have been moved out of South Florida because of all the anti-Castro sentiment in Miami.
In 2005, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Atlanta agreed with the men, overturned their convictions and ordered new trials for them to be held outside Miami. Later, the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the convictions. The appeals court did however order new sentences for Labañino, Guerrero and Fernando González.
The Obama administration lauded Monday's Supreme Court decision saying the convictions were fairly won and that high court review was unnecessary.
BREAKING: Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal of The "Cuban Five"
by Jeremy Scahill
The U.S. Supreme Court has just decided it will not hear the appeal of the “Cuban Five,” a group of Cubans that had infiltrated right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami as part of Havana’s counter-terrorism program. The FBI arrested the five in 1998 and in 2001 they were convicted of 26 counts of spying on Cuban exiles. The trial took place in Miami and the lawyers for the five argued that it was the single most biased community where the trial could have been staged. They attempted to have the case moved to Fort Lauderdale, but that was rejected.
As Democracy Now has reported, “The Cuban Five trial was the only judicial proceeding in US history condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission. Several Nobel Prize winners have also petitioned the US Attorney General calling for freedom for the five. Cuban leader Raul Castro offered last year to release over 200 political prisoners in Cuba in exchange for the five men.”
The issue of the venue for the trial was at the center of the case the five presented to the US Supreme Court:
According to The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five:
For more info, see The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.
Top court won't review case of five Cuban spies
by James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal by five convicted Cuban spies who argued that their trial should have been moved out of Miami because of a biased jury pool.
Without comment, the justices refused to review a U.S. appeals court ruling that the five intelligence agents, who are serving long prison sentences, had failed to establish a right to change the trial venue from Miami, the heart of the Cuban American community.
FBI agents arrested the five in 1998. They were convicted in 2001 of 26 counts of spying on the Cuban exile community in Miami on behalf of Fidel Castro's government.
The so-called "Cuban Five" are celebrated by many in Cuba as national heroes who were spying on armed exile groups in Miami to prevent attacks on their country. They are considered victims of Washington's campaign against the communist-run island.
To hard-line, anti-Castro members of the Cuban exile community, the five were justly convicted, and Havana's support for them has been seen as an example of an anti-U.S. agenda in Cuba dating back to Castro's 1959 revolution.
Before the trial, defense lawyers sought to have the case moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
They argued the pervasive anti-Castro sentiment in the Miami community would infect the jury with hostility and bias against the defendants, and cited the intense pretrial publicity surrounding the case.
The judge presiding over the case ruled the defendants had failed to show it would be virtually impossible to get a fair trial in Miami. He said questioning of potential jurors would allow the defendants to get a fair trial by an impartial jury.
A U.S. appeals court also rejected their claims that the trial should have been moved because of widespread opposition among Cuban Americans in Miami to the government in Havana.
High Court Refuses to Hear Appeal from Cuban Spies
June 16, 2009
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear an appeal from five convicted Cuban spies who said their trial in Miami was unfair because of the fervent anti-Castro sentiments that prevail in the city.
Havana acknowledges that Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez are intelligence agents, but says they were spying not on the U.S. government but on Miami’s Cuban exile community.
Cuba says the men were sent to Florida in the wake of several terror bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.
Arrested in 1998, the agents Cuba calls the “five heroes” were convicted in a federal court in Miami and given sentences ranging from 15 years to life in prison.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the spies’ convictions in 2005, citing the “prejudices” of Miami’s anti-Castro Cubans.
But the full court later nixed the spies’ bid for a new trial and reinstated the original convictions.
Last summer, another three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit again refused to overturn the convictions and confirmed the sentences of Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez, while ordering the trial court to reconsider the penalties imposed on the other three in light of a subsequent finding that they did not gather Top Secret information.
Hernandez is serving two life sentences, one for espionage and the other for his ostensible role in the 1996 downing by Cuban MiGs of two civilian airplanes belonging to the Miami-based exile group Brothers to the Rescue, four of whose members were killed in the incident over international waters.
Rene Gonzalez received a 15-year jail term for espionage and for failing to register as a foreign agent.
The appellate panel threw out the life sentences handed down to Medina and Guerrero and the 19-year prison term imposed on Campa.
Lawyers for the Cuban government appealed the 11th Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decision to refuse to consider the appeal leaves the convictions standing.
During a visit to Brazil last December, Cuban President Raul Castro responded to a reporter’s question about prisoners of conscience in Cuba by offering to trade the political detainees – said by dissident groups to number 207 – for the five Cuban spies in U.S. prisons.
“If they want the dissidents, we’ll send them tomorrow, with their families and all, but let them return our five heroes to us,” Castro said then.
U.S. officials dismissed the idea out of hand.
The Supreme Court will not review the 'Cuban Five' case
by Carol J. Williams
In the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to thaw icebound relations between Washington and Havana, the Supreme Court has taken one option off the table.
The high court’s decision Monday not to review the case of the so-called Cuban Five means the men convicted by a Miami jury in 2001 of being unregistered foreign agents will languish in U.S. prison cells until and unless President Obama pardons them as part of a deal to end the 50-year-long diplomatic standoff with the communist-ruled island.
If the Supreme Court had agreed to take the case, those in the administration sounding out Cuban officials about boosting trade and easing travel restrictions could have staved off Havana’s insistent demands for the men’s release by pointing to the pending high-court review, claiming reluctance to interfere with the judicial workings.
Freedom for the “Five Heroes,” as the men are known in Cuba, is the No. 1 issue for Havana in any U.S.-Cuban rapprochement and a cause celebre for the regime’s portrayal of the United States as a hostile neighbor bent on its destruction.
Cuban authorities and human rights lawyers have cast the prosecution and jailing of the five as a political backlash by Miami’s powerful Cuban exiles after they lost the emotional custody battle over young Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez. The 5-year-old boy who miraculously survived a voyage of escape that killed his mother and washed up on Florida shores on Thanksgiving Day 1999 was returned to his father in Cuba in 2000 over the fierce objections of Miami relatives of his dead mother.
In the Cuban Five case, a Miami judge declined to move the trial to a venue less dominated by Cuban exiles and the five were convicted of espionage, primarily for surveillance of militant exile groups. The men’s defense lawyers argued their work wasn’t spying, but rather efforts to infiltrate and avert plots by the CIA-backed groups intent on assassinating revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
On appeal four years later to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel agreed with the men that they couldn’t have gotten a fair trial in the supercharged atmosphere of Miami after the Elian fiasco. The full 11th Circuit later reinstated the men’s convictions, which will now stand with the Supreme Court decision to pass on the case.
Alleged ringleader Gerardo Hernandez, who was also convicted of murder conspiracy in the 1996 deaths of four pilots from the Brothers to the Rescue group for allegedly passing information that helped the Cuban Air Force shoot down the intruding aircraft, issued a statement through the Cuban parliament denouncing the Supreme Court decision. Hernandez said the court's refusal to review the case was further evidence that “our case has been, from the beginning, a political case.”
Ten Nobel laureates and dozens of foreign parliamentarians and rights advocates had filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the Cuban Five’s petition for a high-court review.
U.S. advocates of better relations with Cuba have been encouraging the Obama administration to consider pardoning and repatriating the Cuban Five as a gesture to Havana that could spur human rights reforms on the island and the expulsion of U.S. fugitives in Cuba.
Corte Suprema de EEUU rechaza caso de espías cubanos
15 de junio de 2009
La Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos rechazó el lunes revisar las condenas por espionaje contra cinco agentes cubanos, que sostienen que no recibieron un juicio justo debido al fuerte estado de ánimo anticastrista en Miami.
El fallo deja intactas las condenas de los llamados "Cinco cubanos" pese a los pedidos de algunos galardonados con el premio Nobel y otros grupos activistas.
Los cinco, Rubén Campa, René González, Gerardo Hernández, Luis Medina y Antonio Guerrero, fueron hallados culpables de espionaje y de ser agentes no declarados del gobierno cubano al intentar infiltrarse en bases militares estadounidenses.
Hernández también fue declarado culpable de conspiración para cometer un asesinato en el caso de las muertes de cuatro pilotos de la organización anticastrista Hermanos al Rescate, de Miami, cuyos aviones fueron derribados por reactores de combate cubanos en 1996 cerca de la costa de la isla.
Corte EE.UU rechaza revisar caso de cinco cubanos presos
15 de junio de 2009
Washington, 15 jun (PL) La Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos rechazó hoy revisar el caso de los cinco antiterroristas cubanos encarcelados en este país desde 1998 con largas condenas.
Abogados de los antiterroristas alegaron ante diversos tribunales que éstos no recibieron un tratamiento judicial imparcial porque fueron procesados en Miami, ciudad donde la extrema derecha cubano-americana ejerce influencia.
El máximo órgano de justicia decidió dejar intactas las sentencias contra Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, René González, Gerardo Hernández y Antonio Guerrero, detenidos cuando monitoreaban actividades terroristas de grupos de extrema derecha.
La Corte Suprema resolvió no analizar las condenas de los conocidos internacionalmente como Los Cinco Héroes, pese a los sucesivos llamados en ese sentido, incluidos varios Premios Nobel e importantes personalidades y entidades internacionales.
En agosto de 2005, un panel de tres jueces en la Corte de Apelaciones de Atlanta decidió unánimemente que el juicio contra Los Cinco debía ser anulado y recomendó celebrar una nueva audiencia fuera de la ciudad de Miami, Florida.
Sin embargo, poco tiempo después, el 11 Circuito Federal de Apelaciones ratificó nuevamente las rigurosas condenas de los cubanos y dejó sin efecto el fallo del tribunal de Atlanta.
Ese mismo año, el Grupo de Detensiones Arbitrarias de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) determinó que Los Cinco eran convictos arbitrarios y le sugirió a Washington revisar el proceso penal.
Hace dos meses el Consejo de la Ciudad de Richmond, California, aprobó por unanimidad una resolución en apoyo a los cinco antiterroristas presos hace una década en Estados Unidos.
Según confirmó el Comité Internacional por la Libertad de los Cinco, el Consejo de Richmond también respaldó los derechos de visitas de sus familiares.
Una resolución en apoyo a los Cinco Cubanos presos en Estados Unidos fue aprobada en la reunión del Consejo de la Ciudad de Richmond del martes 7 de abril por siete votos contra cero, indicó la comunicación.
La iniciativa fue presentada por la alcaldesa Gayle McLaughlin y la concejal Maria Viramontes.
La resolución hizo un llamado al presidente Barack Obama y a la secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton para que consideren la violación de convenios internacionales y el debido proceso judicial en este caso.
También pide el inmediato otorgamiento de visas humanitarias para Olga Salanueva y Adriana Pérez (esposas de dos de los apresados) para visitar a sus compañeros en prisiones norteamericanas.