[Ppnews] US judge re-sentences Cuban Five to 22 years

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 13 18:12:38 EDT 2009


Cuban spy re-sentenced to 22 years prison in US

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jQe4EY--jCW5cj4rrQmhrnzjwjQw
By Juan Castro Olivera (AFP) – 2 hours ago

MIAMI ­ A judge on Tuesday resentenced one of 
five members of the biggest Cuban spy ring broken 
up in the United States to 22 years in jail, down 
from a previous life sentence that was deemed too harsh.

The high-profile case has been an obstacle to 
improving historically strained US relations with 
the only one-party communist regime in the Americas.

Federal Judge Joan Lenard gave a sentence of 262 
months (21 years, 10 months) and five years 
probation to Antonio Guerrero, for gathering and 
relaying US military information to Cuba. The 
sentence was just over the 20 years prosecutors had sought.

Guerrero committed "very serious offenses against the US," the judge said.

"The government did not present evidence that the 
defendant obtained top secret information, but he 
worked to obtain such information," Lenard stressed.

Attorney Leonard Weinglass, who represented 
Guerrero, said the outcome was not what he expected.

"I'm surprised with this decision," said 
Weinglass. "We negotiated an agreement with the 
government in good faith. Hopefully, he will be at home in seven years."

Cast as heroes in Havana, the "Cuban Five" -- 
Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon 
Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez -- were arrested 
in 1998 and convicted three years later. 
Guerrero, 50, is an airport construction engineer 
by training born in the United States to Cuban parents.

Earlier, three of them were sentenced to life in 
prison and the other two were given sentences of 
between 15 and 19 years. Cuba regards them as 
political prisoners and has lobbied intensely for their release.

Lenard this week accepted requests from Labanino 
and Gonzalez' attorneys to delay their sentencing 
pending a probe into whether the US government 
had determined how much damage the spies' work had caused.

An appeals court earlier found the original 
sentences for the Cubans to be excessive and 
ruled that new ones should be handed down.

Court documents claim the Cubans were looking for 
US military information, and to monitor groups of 
Cuban exiles opposed to the Havana government.

Cuba has acknowledged the men were agents but 
claims they were working to stop terrorist attacks on Cuban soil.

The court developments come amid a slight easing 
in tensions between the two countries, dating 
back to the Cold War. The neighbors do not have 
full diplomatic ties, and the United States has 
had an economic embargo on Havana for decades.

In April, US President Barack Obama authorized 
travel and money transfers to the island by US 
nationals of Cuban descent and a month later 
proposed restarting US-Cuba talks on migration issues suspended since 2003.

But while Cuban President Raul Castro has said he 
would be willing to swap jailed political 
dissidents for the five imprisoned men, the US 
government has rejected the idea.

The United States also has said it will not, for 
now, seek to end the full trade embargo, which 
dates to 1962. Instead it has urged Havana to 
show progress on human rights, an approach that has not previously borne fruit.

Copyright © 2009 AFP.

***************************************
US judge cuts Cuban spy sentence

A judge has reduced the jail sentence of a Cuban 
man convicted of spying in the US from life to nearly 22 years.

Antonio Guerrero is one of a group known as the 
Cuban Five who were jailed in the US in 2001 for 
spying for the then government of Fidel Castro.

The resentencing by a federal judge in Miami 
followed an appeals court ruling that his life term was too harsh.

The case has long been a cause of friction with 
Cuba, where the men are considered national heroes.

The five - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, 
Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene 
Gonzalez - were found guilty in 2001 of 
infiltrating US military bases and Cuban exile 
groups, and giving the information to Cuba.

Hernandez was also convicted of conspiracy to 
commit murder over the shooting-down in 1996 of 
two planes flown by a Cuban exile group, Brothers to the Rescue.

The men, who received terms ranging from 15 years 
to life, have made several appeals against their convictions and sentences.

Last year, an appeals court upheld their 
convictions but ordered three of the group - 
Guerrero among them - to be resentenced.

Guerrero's lawyers had reached a deal with 
prosecutors last week on a 20-year sentence.

But in court on Tuesday, District Judge Joan 
Lenard handed down a slightly longer term of 21 
years and 10 months, saying Guerrero had 
committed "very serious offences" and had made no statement of contrition.

Anti-Castro sentiment

In June, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an 
appeal against the group's convictions.

The five argue that they did not get a fair 
hearing at the original trial in Miami because of 
anti-Castro sentiment in the city.

US prosecutors have insisted the men were found 
guilty on hard evidence, while Cuban exile groups 
say they were justly punished.

The Cuban government says the men were not in 
Miami to spy on the US but to prevent anti-Castro 
exile groups from launching what it calls terrorist attacks on Cuba.

They have been in US custody since 1998.
Story from BBC NEWS:
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/8305967.stm>http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/8305967.stm

Published: 2009/10/13 21:50:42 GMT

© BBC MMIX



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