[News] Leonard Weinglass on Cuba 5, LA 8

News@freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 5 08:33:38 EDT 2005


Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 1:35 PM
Subject: Leonard Weinglass RHC interview, Broadcast August 4-5, 2005

(While waiting for the appeal at the 11th Circuit, attorney
Weinglass is working on the LA 8 case and others. Thanks to
Bernie Dwyer at Radio Havana Cuba's English Department for
sharing this with CubaNews.)
=========================================================

Interview with Leonard Weinglass on the decision taken by
the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions regarding the
Five Cuban political prisoners incarcerated in the United
States.

As we wait for the decision to come down from the Atlanta
11th Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal lodged by the
lawyers for a retrial of the five Cuban political prisoners
incarcerated in the United States, Bernie Dwyer spoke by
telephone on August 4th to civil rights attorney, Leonard
Weinglass, at his office in New York, about the recent
finding of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary
Detentions.

When asked to comment on the reaction from an US State
Department official on the findings of the UN Working
Group, the well-known civil rights lawyer, who is part of
the legal defense team said that "any lawyer in the United
States or in any country or any judge anywhere reading that
reaction will be appalled and angry at the reaction of the
government of the United States".

[Bernie Dwyer] Can you explain to us the actual
implications of the finding of the UN Working Group on
Arbitrary Detentions?

[Leonard Weinglass] I am very impressed with their work and
the fact that they undertook the responsibility of
investigating the case of the Five after meeting with the
two wives.

It's a very humane gesture on the part of an official
organization like the United Nations Working Group to
undertake the investigation of the case based on a
complaint of two wives and not on any official government
complaint.

They then undertook for over a year to examine the issues
that the wives raised and questioned the United States
government about those issues and if you see and read the
opinion of the working group you will see that they decided
just three of the issues.

Of course, on the appeal we raised many more but the reason
why they decided the three issues was because these were
the three issues that, apparently, the US government
conceded were true.

1. They were wrongfully held for 17 months in isolated
punishment cells

2. Their lawyers were deprived of the opportunity of
examining all the evidence because the government invoked
the procedures of the Classified Information Protection
Act.

3. They were wrongfully tried in a venue where they could
not get a fair trial and that the government one year later
had conceded that that venue couldn't give a fair trial on
an issue related to Cuba.

That's very convincing and very effective because there is
no answer to the findings by the UN Working Group because
the United States government has already conceded the truth
of those findings.

[Bernie Dwyer] The main aim of all the campaigns and
political actions is to sooner rather than later get the
Five out of prison. What role does this play in their
eventual release?

[Leonard Weinglass] Immediately, no role. We have to wait
on the decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and
hopefully that decision will parallel and agree with the
findings of the UN Working Group.

But the United States government has to respond to the
Working Groups findings and we will get a copy of that
response and perhaps at some point down the road, if we
should lose in the 11th Circuit and then lose again in the
Supreme Court, I think that we should be bringing the
Working Group's findings to another federal district court
in an independent action after all the appeals are
completed-if that becomes necessary. Hopefully, it won't be
necessary.

[Bernie Dwyer] What do you think of the reactions printed
in the Miami Herald on July 20th that the US State
Department is quoted as saying that the decision by the
Working Group is "outrageous" and that it would not accept
a "ridiculous and perplexing decision" made by a United
Nations panel?

[Leonard Weinglass] Any lawyer in the United States or in
any country or any judge anywhere reading that reaction
will be appalled and angry at the reaction of the United
States.

They never address specifically the findings of the Working
Group. It would have been easy for the United States
government to say, for instance: No, the working group is
wrong, they were never held in isolation for 17 months but
the government couldn't do that. Or the government could
have said the venue was fair but they couldn't do that
either. Or that the defense was denied all the evidence.

So rather than deal with the substance of what was found by
the Working Group, the government began almost a childish
process of attacking the findings without ever addressing
them. And I think any lawyer or judge who considers that
response would be upset and appalled by the government's
response to a very carefully crafted decision after a one
year investigation.

[Bernie Dwyer] As a lawyer working on the case, have you
found that the case of Posada Carriles is helping to show
up by contrast the treatment of the five by the US
government and does it help to bring the case of the Five
to the US media?

[Leonard Weinglass] The answer is yes to both of your
questions. As you know the Five have had difficulty given
the state of media in the United States of generating any
media attention on their case until the Carriles case.

And now with the Carriles case there is media comment, not
as much as there ought to be but in any event there is
some, comparing the two situations so the Carriles case has
surfaced the Cuban Five case in the American media and
that's good.

It has also, as your question suggests, compared and
contrasted the reactions of the US government to both cases
and that's also very hopeful. So in the end I think the
Carriles case is going to be very helpful to a resolution
of the case of the Five.

[Bernie Dwyer] We have been waiting since the 10th of March
2004 for a reply to the Appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals. In your experience is this a very long time?

[Leonard Weinglass] It is a very long time but waiting in
this condition is not a bad thing. I would have been very
concerned if that court had acted swiftly because that
would have indicated they really didn't give the case its
due.

I am convinced now that the court is looking very closely
at this case which after all was the longest trial in the
United States at the time it occurred and it's an enormous
record: 119 volumes, 20,000 pages of exhibits. This is one
of the biggest cases in terms of its size and volume and
even in its importance before any circuit court in the
United States today.

So I do not mind waiting. I applaud the time as long as it
takes to resolve this case. I only would have been upset if
the case had been resolved quickly. You remember that the
jury resolved this case very quickly and without any
difficulty. I was afraid we would face the same in the
Court of appeals. I am very gratified that we don't and I
am glad to wait.

[Bernie Dwyer] Can you tell us what kind of work you are
doing yourself while you are waiting?

[Leonard Weinglass] I am involved in several other cases.
One of them involves a law suit by 600 people who were
illegally arrested at a protest against the World Bank in
the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC in the
spring of 2002. That's a long-standing case and I am glad
to be part of it.

But most of my work now is also devoted to the LA 8 who are
eight Palestinians who the government ordered deported 18
years ago because of their support for the PLO and a
Palestinian Homeland. That case has been on-going for 18
years. You talk about a long wait. We have been waiting
that long. Incidentally we have won every step of the way
and the government is still persisting in bringing the case
and but we are actively working on that case now, which
should be going to a hearing shortly.

[Bernie Dwyer] Do you feel that the International
Solidarity groups should up their profile? Do you think
they are doing well?

[Leonard Weinglass] I think they are doing very well. I was
last month in Paris speaking at the International
Association of Democratic Lawyers and the response was very
favorable and very positive to the case. I find that's true
wherever I go. I think I am returning to Paris for another
conference concerning the case in December.

But I will say this; there is no limit to the amount of
support that should be generated internationally. It's
imperative and very crucial to the case and I think that it
is very important that efforts be made in that direction.

This interview was broadcast by Radio Havana Cuba in two
parts on August 4th and 5th 2005


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