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.