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Cuban Five Timeline
Early 1990s: The Cuban Five begin a mission in Miami area to monitor terrorist organizations’ plots and prevent attacks on Cuba.
Sept. 12, 1998: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González are arrested in pre-dawn hours. In following days they are charged with 26 federal counts. For 17 months they are held in isolation.
May 7, 1999: Gerardo Hernández indicted for murder conspiracy.
Nov. 7, 2000: The Miami trial of the Cuban Five begins. Despite several defense motions, Judge Joan Lenard refuses to move the trial venue out of Miami.
June 8, 2001: The Cuban Five are convicted on all charges by the Miami jury.
June 17, 2001: The Cuban Five issue their first public statement, “Letter to the people of the United States,” a moving testimony of their mission against terrorism.
Late June 2001: Within days of their unjust conviction, The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is formed in the United States.
Dec. 13-27, 2001: The Five are sentenced in Miami and moved to separate prisons. Gerardo is sentenced to two life sentences plus 10 years; Ramón is sentenced to life plus 18 years; Antonio is sentenced to life plus 10 years; Fernando is sentenced to 19 years; René is sentenced to 15 years. In subsequent months, they are moved to five separate prisons scattered across the United States.
August 2002: Renowned civil rights attorney Leonard Weinglass joins the legal team, representing Antonio Guerrero.
November 2002: The defense files a motion for re-trial before Judge Lenard, citing the U.S. prosecutor’s misconduct, by its contradictory position of claiming Miami was a proper venue for the trial of the Five. However, one year later, the same U.S. attorney’s office claimed Miami was too biased for the defendant, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, when he was the defendant in Ramirez v. Ashcroft civil suit. Ashcroft’s trial was moved out of Miami.
November, 2002: Judge Joan Lenard issues a one-page decision denying the Five’s motion for re-trial.
April, 2003: The Cuban Five defense team files the first federal appeal at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
March 3, 2004: The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, in collaboration with organizations across the U.S. and worldwide, publishes a $50,000 full-page ad in the New York Times, calling for freedom of the Cuban Five.
March 10, 2004: The first oral arguments hearing before the 3-judge panel of Stanley F. Birch, Joan Kravitch and James L. Oakes is held in Miami. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five holds a press conference after the hearing, in which Attorney Weinglass speaks.
May 25, 2005: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions issues its first opinion ever on a United States trial, in the matter of the Cuban Five, calling on the U.S. government to remedy numerous irregularities.
Aug. 9, 2005: In an historic and unprecedented victory, the 3-judge panel of the 11th Circuit issues a 93-page unanimous opinion, overturning the convictions of the Cuban Five, citing “a perfect storm” of the prejudicial Miami atmosphere, U.S. government misconduct and the history of terrorism in Miami. A new trial is ordered within 18 months.
Oct. 31, 2005: In a major setback to the Five’s fight for freedom, the full panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sets aside the 3-judge-panel opinion of Aug. 5, and agrees to re-hear the case (responding to the U.S. government’s appeal), with the announcement that the en banc panel will review only the issue of venue.
Feb. 14, 2006: A second oral argument is held, this time before the 11th Circuit’s full en banc panel, in Atlanta.
Aug. 9, 2006: Exactly one year to the day that the Cuban Five’s appeals were overturned, the en banc panel of the 11th Circuit affirms the trial verdict, stating that the venue of Miami was adequate. However, the judges remand the remaining issues of the Defense’s original appeal — excessive sentences, wrongful convictions on the charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder, as well as unconstitutional violation of due process by the government’s use of FISA and CIPA laws — back to the 3-judge panel of Birch, Kravitch and Oakes.
Aug. 2007: The third oral arguments hearing, before the 3-judge panel, is held in Atlanta. The National Committee organizes a public forum and reception for more than 75 jurists and prominent individuals from around the world, who come to Atlanta to attend the hearing.
June 4, 2008: The 3-judge panel reaffirms the convictions of the Five, but orders re-sentencing for Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González for being excessive sentences. However the same panel cruelly denies Gerardo Hernández a similar re-sentencing on his espionage-conspiracy conviction, stating that he already has a 2nd life sentence — the false conviction for “conspiracy to commit murder,” and thus, says that a reduction would be moot.
2009: The defense team appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Twelve Amicus Curiae “friend of the court” briefs are submitted to the court from 10 Nobel Prize recipients, European parliamentarians, the Mexican Senate, international legal associations, and human rights organizations.
June 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the Cuban Five’s appeal.
Oct. 13, 2009: Antonio Guerrero is re-sentenced in the court of Judge Joan Lenard. Guerrero receives a reduction from life to 21 years and 10 months. The courtroom is packed with his supporters. Leonard Weinglass represents him in the hearing. If there is no further reduction by the legal process or political solution, Guerrero’s release date would be Sept. 18, 2017.
Dec. 13, 2009: Fernando González and Ramón Labañino are re-sentenced in the court of Judge Joan Lenard. Labañino receives a reduction from life to 30 years. González is reduced from 19 years to 17 years. Again, the courtroom is packed their supporters. Barring a further reduction or freedom through other legal means, González’s release date would be Feb. 27, 2014.
June 10, 2010: With the process of direct appeal exhausted, the Five’s attorneys file a motion for Collateral — also known as Habeas Corpus — appeal, for Gerardo Hernández. His appeal is primarily based on two issues: His complete innocence in the “murder conspiracy” charge, as he was not involved in any way in the shootdown of the Brothers to the Rescue planes (Feb. 24, 1996); as well as the new evidence of U.S. government misconduct, in its extensive operation of payments to Miami journalists while they covered the Five prosecution in a harmful and biased manner.
2010, 2011: Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Fernando González file their Habeas Corpus appeals. Through 2010 and 2011, the Five’s attorneys and U.S. prosecutors submit the required memoranda and responses. Read all the documents here.
Oct. 7, 2011: René González is released from Marianna federal correctional institution.
March 30, 2012: René González travels to Cuba for two weeks to visit his brother Roberto in the hospital.
April 26, 2013: René González travels to Cuba for two weeks to attend his father's memorial service.
May 3, 2013: René González allowed to stay in Cuba permanently as the court finally grants his request to serve the rest of his parole in Cuba, in return for renouncing his U.S. citizenship.
Feb. 27, 2014: Fernando González finishes his sentence and returns to Cuba the following day.
Dec. 17, 2014: The remaining three members of the Cuban Five are granted clemency by President Barack Obama and return the same day to Cuba. The Five are now all free!
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