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Posted July 24, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By Marie Frail | Reuters

A Cuban spy serving two life sentences in a U.S. high-security prison hopes an appeals court will annul convictions by a Miami jury he says was too scared to acquit him in a highly charged anti-Castro setting.

Gerardo Hernandez told Reuters by telephone from prison that he was spying on paramilitary exile groups in Miami, not the United States, when he and four members of his so-called Wasp Network were arrested by the FBI in 1998.

His mission was to prevent “terrorist” attacks on Cuba, he said.

“You can be a terrorist in this country if you are a terrorist against Cuba, no problem with that. Those are the good terrorists for the U.S. government,” he said from Victorville Penitentiary in California.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hold oral hearings on August 20 in an appeal that could reopen the case of the “Cuban Five” convicted in 2001 of spying on behalf of Fidel Castro’s Communist government.

Prosecutors accused the Cuban Five of trying to infiltrate U.S. military installations to obtain secrets. One did work as a janitor at a Boca Chica Navy training base near Key West.

Hernandez, 42, was also indicted for conspiracy to commit murder based on the allegation he passed information to Havana that led to the downing in 1996 by a Cuban MiG jet of two small planes operated by a Miami-based Cuban exile group and flying near Cuba. Four people were killed.

Hernandez says that was no secret: the exile group Brothers to the Rescue, which had overflown Havana dropping leaflets, announced its plan to fly toward Cuba in a news conference.

“If you go to the worst espionage cases in U.S. history, those people got life sentences for stealing very secret and damaging documents for foreign powers,” he said. “I got life for stealing nothing.” 

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 25, 2007 by anders

    The cases of “the Cuban Five” came as a chock to me when I was presented with the matter only a few years ago. I was very reluctant to believe official Cuban presentations - as they were the ones who first informed me - simply because they described an outrageous chain of events and certainly are partial.

    Back in Sweden I spent at least a full week checking up on these cases. First of all there were almost no swedish information on it. Only short notices. In Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Canada there was more. In England and the US there was lots of it.

    My findings were astonishing. The Cuban version is most likely true, at least in its essential features. They were not spying on the US. They were spying on terrorists. Most of the material evidence put forward both by prosecutors and defence is publicised. The only classified material , context suggests, are documents that probably would reviel connections in between National Security Service and the terrorists and/or the hollowness of “evidence”.
    Still it is an illegal intelligence activity that could render them a shorter jail sentence but most likely expulsion from the country. In most countries this is what would happen.

    Finding Cuban authorities to be much more open and ready to disclose documents then US authorities was completely against my expectations.

    Cuban officials were capable of reasoning around the matter, recognising violations conducted by their side in a manner US authorities didn´t come close to.
    Cuban general description of events came much closer to summaries by observers at the court proceedings.
    The impression some US authorities were ready to protect exilecuban-terrorists is hard to let go off.

    The fact it was Cuban National Security and Department of Foreign Affairs that informed US counterparts establishes where the most trustworthy angel of interpretation of events is.
    US readiness to violate proper diplomatic conduct and abuse confidence as a foreign nation tries to reach out and establish cooperation was extremely discouraging. Their incapacity to handle trust and confidence building could damage their diplomatic inpact in general. Maybe that is a part of the shortcomings they had on the Iraq conflict.

    These “Cuban Five” have served 10 years now. Releasing them would be a possibilaty to initiate reconciliation in between the to countries.


  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 25, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I tend to agree with you on this one. I think the US might be wrong since the trial was held in Miami, the WORST place for this type of trial.



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  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 25, 2007 by anders

    now you make me a lot happier ! Reconciliation is basically what we are here for !


  4. Follow up post #4 added on July 26, 2007 by Cuban American

    I have yet to really research the trial and read through both arguements so until I do I won’t make a suggestion on to what should happen to the “Cuban Five”.  However, I did want to make a response to a comment anders made, and this isn’t an attack just a response:

    “These “Cuban Five” have served 10 years now. Releasing them would be a possibilaty to initiate reconciliation in between the to countries. “

    My only arguement against this is why can’t they release the political prisoners they have in Cuba who have only publicly voiced there disagreement with the Cuban domestic policies? 

    Although they Cuban 5 didn’t spy on top US secrets allegedly, they still did conduct espionage on certain US bases (if im not mistaken), which is still espionage.  These Cuban dissendents only voiced there oposition in a peaceful manner to the CUban government.


  5. Follow up post #5 added on July 26, 2007 by anders

    my immidiate reaction is political prisoners on Cuba shouldn´t have anything to do with the case of the Cuban Five, unless you suggest…..
    - their activities were connected
    - revenge is a part of modern jurisprudence
    - an eye for an eye is proper conduct
    - two wrongs evens out

    It is a good thing you wish to research for your self. Thats an honoroble thing to do. You will find lots of material including articles from Florida newspapers.
    May I suggest you also do the same thing about the cuban prisoners. You will find lots of judicial material there also. Photographs, reciepts, adressbooks, written instructions and witnessreports. The sentences are, most of them published by University of Miami, department of Civil Rights or something like that.
    Also many of those convicted in april 2003 are now released so from the point of view that you are suggesting the cubans have already begun.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on July 26, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    anders, again, you see things a bit differently than the rest of us.

    If you want to suggest that the trials in Cuba are similar to the trials in the US, you are delusional. Again (like Don and Vlasta) you speak with such authority yet you have no idea what you are talking about.

    You’re telling me the Cuban dissidents in 2003 all got fair trials? You really do see the world differently.



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  7. Follow up post #7 added on July 27, 2007 by anders

    Publisher,
    I seem to see the world differently compared to you and a few others writing on this site. Many usa:ans and some europeans agree with your views but neither of theme have any knowledge to back up their opinions with. They are only opinionated and prejudiced. So I would rather say I see the world. How many royalties, heads of state, government members do you know around the world ?

    You quite justly recognize I have perspectives and views beyond those I express. But you rarely see them. You are sometimes right on direction but not substance. Instead you disclose constantly which ones you have. When you find I don´t agree with yours or those you normally associate with you conclude I must be one of “them”. When you try to substantiate “them” you brutaly disclose your understanding of the world. And that one is neither substantial or pretty. And a very isolated little Haven !

    During the last years I have heard both europeans, africans and indians(dehli) comment on stupid remarks from people with - “blaa, its only an american “. But I have never heard a cuban do it. They can´t afford to.

    I can asure you my understanding of global affairs, conflicts, US involvement and various orders-of-solutions are miles ahead of yours if you aply some sort of global criterion. Take some time with UN resolutions, for instance !

    No, I don´t want to say the Cuban trials were similar to those in Miami. The Miami trials were rigged, the cuban were not. The Miami cases rested on hollow evidence. The Cuban cases are rock solid. The Miami prosecutors could not substantiate the alleged motifs of the accused - even high ranking US military staff gave witness against it. The motifs of those convicted around Cuba in April 2003 are clear beyond any doubt. Written instructions, informal letters, witness reports and other material evidence are completely congruant. The Cuba trials would surely pass through any reliable court in the world. The Miami trials would have collapsed in most states in the US.

    Why don´t you do like “CubaAmerican” and take some time investigating these things for youself. But, please show some skills in critisism of sources.

    When you say I don´t know what I´m talking about don´t you understand you only accomplish the opposit of what you wish ? noone with at least ABC knowledge of Cuba would state that. Disagree, of course. Misjudge or interprete wrongly. Certainly !

    These Don and Vlasta ? Did they torement you as a child or something ? I think you need to explain who they are/were !


  8. Follow up post #8 added on July 27, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Don and Vlasta (for those who may not know) both claimed to be scholars and well educated people yet consistently make ridiculous pro-Cuba and anti-US claims much like yourself.

    Funny how Don came here, got himself banned for repeatedly posting off-topic comments then Vlasta who is on his second warning and now you.

    All three are the same person. You can deny it but you all sound the same and make ridiculous claims to just spread pro-Castro propaganda.

    I will not debate you because your mindset is delusional.

    So, go ahead and say stupid things like “The Miami trials were rigged, the cuban were not.”

    I have little reason to reply to you and I recommend that other readers ignore your delusional rants.



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  9. Follow up post #9 added on July 27, 2007 by anders

    You must be suffering from some kind of bunker syndrom. You are loosing everything here. Don´t be surprised if those that agree with you don´t agree with you.
    Your in full control of your own site so you can clearly see my e-mail adress is of a major swedish corporation.  Are you suggesting we are harboring cuban agents ?
    I´ve been thinking you avoided confirming my swedish adress in your comments either because of some form of consideration or to maintain some sort of dramatic tension. But not so, it seems. Either you can´t handle the technology, which is unlikely, or you are looking for a way to exclude people you picture as a threat. You are not very liberal, are you ?  You have increased tensions here constantly !

    As there seems to be a rule against disclosing links in these comments, a good rule by the way, and I do not want to include neither my political positions or private life I urge anyone who so wishes to contact me at

                Stockholm Episcopate
                ViSK Anders Agren
                Stockholm, Sweden

    Unfortunately you are behaving and performing in a way business people, politicians and other officials of the world community have to face more and more frequently in our transatlantic relations. For a number of reasons the rest of us must maintain high standards. Read Bill Clintons old article . He has understood many things .


  10. Follow up post #10 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    This is a pretty open and shut case. They were not spying on “terrorists,” they were spying on individuals working towards the island’s liberation. That said, they were on U.S. soil on missions meant to prop up a non-elected, extremely repressive regime. Are we supposed to pity these men? I could care less. Essentially, what I’m hearing is this:

    It’s OK to be in a foreign country working to prop up an oppressive dictatorship.

    It’s NOT Ok to be working to liberate your fellow countrymen from an oppressive dictatorship. The logic strikes me as incredibly flawed and/or arrogant.

    -Anatasio


  11. Follow up post #11 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Alpha 66, Luis Posada etc? I’d put them in the terrorist category. Some would call them good terrorists.

    Honesly, I don’t know enough about the Cuban Five but I don’t think they were here to get US secrets. Just my opinion.



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  12. Follow up post #12 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Luis Posada - Terrorist - no doubt about it. You attack genuine military/political targets, that’s one thing - you start attacking innocent Cuban citizens - you’re a terrorist - case closed. As for other folks working towards eventual liberation - what’s the problem with that?

    -Anatasio


  13. Follow up post #13 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Are you saying that Alpha 66 is working for the liberation of the cuban people? Some would say that Hamas is working for the liberation of the palestinian people and that Israel should not exist.

    Not to drag international politics into this, I’m glad to read that you are not a supporter of Posada.



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  14. Follow up post #14 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    No, Alpha 66 engaged in a campaign 20 years ago (from what I’ve read) to assassinate more moderate community leaders - ie their own brothers. This is intolerable and unacceptable.

    As for Hamas - they lost the “freedom fighter” badge the very moment they began to attack Israeli civilians so, while I understand their plight (the Palestinian people suffered some of the same crimes as Cubans - arbitrary seizure of homes, etc), I will never condone targeting civilians.

    That said - the targeting of political/government entities with direct responsibility for maintaining the oppressive government in Havana is a legitimate act. Unfortunately, some people in the Cuban community tend to simply support anyone fighting against Castro - no matter if they use the murder of civilians as a method (which makes absolutely no sense).

    -Anatasio


  15. Follow up post #15 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thanks for clearing that up for me. See why I’m a little freaked out by the old Cuban exiles?

    Were the Cuban Five justified in spying within the Cuban American community to discover and monitor these plots to kill leaders of their government?



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  16. Follow up post #16 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Well, obviously from the point of view of Castro & Co.

    That however is irrelevant - as the Castro regime is an unelected oppressive government. They were put into the pokey for being unregistered foreign agents working for an oppressive foreign regime. They got what they asked for. Pure and simple. I don’t know what all the whining is about from those who would present these guys as heroes - they’re nothing but mercenaries for international tyranny. Good riddance - they have committed crimes against the Cuban people by way of directly supporting and propping up the regime that oppresses us. They’re guilty of more than just being spies.

    -Anatasio


  17. Follow up post #17 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I find it interesting that you are level headed and against violence against civilians regardless of cause but your words leak over into vigilante justice or at least “good enough” justice when you say they are guilty of just being spies.

    See where the rationale breaks down?



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  18. Follow up post #18 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    No, honestly I don’t.

    These men were working directly for the Cuban de-facto government in a bid to infiltrate and hobble those groups working towards the will of the Cuban people - ie and end to the dictatorship. The sooner they’re off the streets, the less damage they can do towards efforts for a liberated Cuba.

    A vigilante is someone who takes the law into his own hands. Efforts to end the dictatorship reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people. It’s not as if the only people against Castro are a couple of hundred geriatrics in Miami - we’re talking about the yearnings and hopes of millions of human beings here.

    -Anatasio


  19. Follow up post #19 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    “Efforts to end the dictatorship reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people.”

    I have never heard of an attempt by a Cuban citizen to kill Castro. How come no Cuban citizen ever tried to kill Castro?

    Now I’m not saying he’s a nice guy and should rule Cuba forever but I always wondered why there was never a public attempt to kill Castro. I know the military has the country locked down but the international press is in Cuba and would think that if someone ever tried to kill Castro that they could have easily done it.

    Heck, when I was there, I was less than ten feet away and could have gotten closer if I wanted to.

    So, if so many Cubans hate Castro, how come they never killed him themselves?



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  20. Follow up post #20 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    First of all, plenty of Cubans have tried to kill castro - starting with his own cheif of staff, Juan Orta in the early 1960s.

    Second of all - the population was disarmed very early on in the revolution - ever try getting hold of a weapon in Cuba?

    Third - as an example - during the run up to the Bay of Pigs - Tens of thousands of people - anyone deemed even remotely revolutionary - were locked up in sports stadiums across the island until the heat was off.

    Fourth - when a handful of human beings control every aspect of your life - from what food you eat, to whether or not you’re permitted to go to school, to what job you can hold, etc - you’ve got more important things to worry about than coming up with a plant to kill castro.

    Talk to folks who trust you on the island and see how often the wish comes up - more than you would imagine.

    How many russians tried to kill stalin?

    Questions a bit too easy to answer (no offense meant).

    -Anatasio


  21. Follow up post #21 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Besides the fact that - COME ONE - you mean to insinuate that the Cuban people don’t view Fidel as being that bad? Give me a break. It seems as if you’re overanalyzing here - it’s really quite simple. Guy’s a murderous dictator with a LOT of blood on his hands and shoulders the responsibility of having transformed Cuba from a developed country with an incredible, vibrant economy - into a third world nation(nightmare). When you look at it this way it’s even more incredible to think about:

    In the course of only 61 years - Cuba went from third world colony to successful developed country (accept for that scumbag Batista), back to a third world nightmare. Crazy!

    Regards,

    Anatasio


  22. Follow up post #22 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thanks for the education. We strayed a bit off topic. I’m sure not many agree that Castro is good for Cuba. How to transition from here to post Castro Cuba is where people differ.



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  23. Follow up post #23 added on August 02, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Yeah we did - what was the topic again? LOL. Good talking to you though - got the gears in my head turning.

    Be well,

    -Anatasio


  24. Follow up post #24 added on August 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Me too and that’s what US Cuba policy needs, more conversation. The left, the right and the middle should try a little dialog.

    If the US had diplomatic relations with Cuba, we might have been able to influence Castro instead he did whatever he wanted for 45+ years.

    Too bad Bush doesn’t have the guts to engage with Raul UNDER SPECIFIC CONDITIONS like releasing prisoners etc .

    Anyway, we can pick up our discussion on another article. Check into our forums at http://havanajournal.com/forums/ if you haven’t already.



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