BBC Mundo América Latina
July 14, 2005
UN defends Cuban prisoners in the U.S.
The United Nations
stated that the jailing of the five Cubans in Miami,
United States, under charges of espionage violate international agreements.
A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
Edited by Walter Lippmann
The family expects the law will
allow them to come home.
The Work Group of Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Human Rights Commission stated that the trial held four years ago was not impartial and that sentences that go from five years to life imprisonment were excessively severe.
The UN panel pointed out that the five had been denied proper access to their lawyers and important evidence.
Cuba considers that the five men are heroes who were only trying to prevent exile groups from Miami to attack the Fidel Castro government.
Our Havana correspondent, Fernando Ravsberg talked with the wives of Gerardo Hernández and Rene González, two of the five Cubans imprisonment.
Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva have been prevented from visiting their husbands because Washington had denied them visas to enter the U.S.
What do United State authorities claim to deny your entrance in the country?
Olga: The visas have been denied for different reasons that change every time we rebut them. They claim that we represent a danger for U.S. security.
They have been in jail for 7 years and very few family relatives have been able to see them. It took months to establish telephone communication with the U.S. Interest Section Office in Havana.
They give us three months for an answer but continue saying it is a case they are not authorized to decide upon there; that we have to wait for a decision from Washington and we would have to wait, three, four or six months. Sometimes that has taken more than a year.
To date they have denied us visa six times.
We have a daughter who was born in 1990. She is a U.S. citizen and does not know her father. That is very cruel.
Why do they deny being spies if they were in the U.S. gathering information for Cuba?
Olga: In the first place, the information they gathered never compromised U.S. national security.
The terrorist organizations (sic) are groups that walk the Miami streets freely and they are on television every day; they own the radio stations; own Miami politics, but are not related to the government.
You can’t call someone a spy if he hasn’t taken one document that could endanger national security in a country. During the entire trial there was no witness, no document, to demonstrate they were spies.
Why then did the court act with such severity?
Adriana: We must clear up that we are facing a political case. My husband received life in prison for conspiring to commit first-degree murder.
During the 7 months of the trial, they were not allowed to move venue to another less hostile city, as the defense requested. For that reason, and in spite of all the proof, it was impossible to uphold a verdict of innocent.
They selected a jury that could not be totally impartial. It was impossible in that city, to chose 12 jury member that were not in some way linked the anti-Cuban Miami Mafia terrorists (sic).
There is such a lack of proof supporting charges of espionage are really conspiring to commit espionage because the prosecutor did not have proof for such a charge.
Why are you so sure that your husband did not have a hand in the downing of the small planes if he was there to watch those groups and inform on their activities?
Adriana: All the Miami organizations brag about their actions. They go on television, on the radio and report what kind of action they are going to commit.
It wasn’t difficult to find out about these actions. Also, the day the Cuban government downed these small planes, José Basalto, head of the organization, Brothers to the rescue, on board one of the planes declared to the television that he would fly to Cuba.
It wasn’t necessary to count on Gerardo to learn that the planes were going to enter Cuban airspace.
What is their situation in prison?
Olga: They are separated in five states, five different jails. They can’t communicate although they can with their families by telephone or in letters.
We cannot call them. The other way is through weekly and monthly visits, but most of their family is in Cuba and we need visits to visit them.
How do your husbands see the future? Do you really think that they will return to Cuba as the Cuban government assures?
Adriana: The Work Group of Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Human Rights Commission issued a statement affirming that it was a case of arbitrary detention.
We are supported by hope that other organizations have heard our request and can come out in our favor. We are not going to rest until we have them here in Cuba.
The Atlanta Appeals Court has the opportunity to uphold the law. They are innocent and we have the law on our side. When public opinion learns of these irregularities, justice will be done.
What has been the most difficult moment for you?
Olga: Everything. Nothing is easy when a person is put in jail. The family abandoned, hurt, even more so if doing jail time defending a just reason; then it is still more difficult.
But strength grows from that very same difficulty, that which is with us now.
Olga said the whole process was very painful.
Olga’s seven-year-old daughter does not know her father.
Adriana insists that the evidence presented
did not prove the culpability of her husband.
For immediate release July 14, 2005
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
CONDEMNS U.S. GOVERNMENT
OVER THE CASE OF THE “CUBAN FIVE”
The Working Group on Arbitration Detentions of the UN Commission on Human Rights has just made public its resolution Opinion No. 19/2005 (United States of America) following its investigation into the case of the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for the “crime of trying to prevent attacks against Cuba initiated by Miami-based terrorist groups.
In its declaration, adopted May 27, 2005, the Working Group concluded that the imprisonment and treatment of the Five was arbitrary and made recommendations to the U.S. government to rectify the situation. This is the first time that a special mechanism of the UN has issued an opinion on the case.
A book, Letters of Love and Hope: The Case of the Cuban Five will be released next month, including correspondence between the five prisoners and their families, diary excepts, and drawings providing a glimpse of how ordinary families strive to maintain connections in extraordinary circumstances, a struggle for human dignity and hope, with echoes of the Elián González controversy and the Rosenberg case.
In her introduction, Alice Walker describes this is a story of “courage, great sacrifice and love. It is a story for the ages; especially for those of our people who have suffered under the implacable oppression of white American supremacy, a rule of color and power the rest of the world appears destined to experience.”
Well-known U.S. political prisoners, Angela Davis and Mumia Abu-Jamal have added their voices to the campaign to free the five Cubans, something which Davis considers “a duty for all the forces that stand against terrorism in any part of the world.”
Leonard Weinglass, attorney for one of the detained Cubans, has repeatedly argued that the case represents a significant violation of both international law and the U.S. Constitution, a claim now apparently vindicated by the findings of the UN Commission on Human Rights Working Group.
Letters of Love and Hope is published by Ocean Press and distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution to the book trade. For further information or a review copy of the book, please call Bill Koehnlein (212-260 3690) or e-mail: email@example.com
UN Decision on Cuban Five: An Act of Justice
Havana, Jul 16 (Prensa Latina) The decision of a UN Human Rights Committee that the imprisonment of five Cubans in the United States is arbitrary was described here Friday as an act of justice.
Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez, one of the five anti-terrorist fighters serving long sentences in that northern nation, told Prensa Latina the decision "is a victory for this just cause."
A committee of the UN Commission on Human Rights Arbitrary Detentions Working Group in Geneva noted the legal process and sentences of the Cuban Five, as they are known internationally, violate international law.
"I welcomed the news, because it is the third consecutive year we have gone to Geneva to speak with the officials of that organisation," indicated Salanueva.
"The Working Group called my husband´s imprisonment, and that of his fellow countrymen, arbitrary, taking into consideration their solitary confinement for 17 months," said Rene´s wife, whose daughter is still prevented by US authorities from meeting with her father.
She said that although the verdict is not binding on the US government, it has to respond in the next session of the Commission on Human Rights, when the committee will table a report in that respect.
The Working Group noted that the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality which is required in order to conclude on the observance of the standards of a fair trial, as defined in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a party.
The Five are still awaiting the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Not only for Olga, but also for the rest of the Cuban Five relatives, it is necessary to broadcast the UN decision, which should be taken into consideration by the Atlanta Appeals Court.
"It is now not only the opinion of the Five, their families and the thousands of supportive people everywhere. It is also a United Nations mechanism that considers their treatment a grave injustice," Olga Salanueva concluded.
Havana. July 14, 2005
UN states that detention of Cubans
in the U.S. is illegal and arbitrary
BY BRADLEY KLAPPER
GENEVA.—The detention of five Cubans found guilty of espionage in the United States is arbitrary and in violation of international law, according to a UN panel in a finding to which AP had access.
The ruling of the UN working group on arbitrary detentions states that the five Cubans – convicted in 2001 of trying to infiltrate US military bases and exile groups in Florida – were denied access to the totality of the evidence against them, as were their lawyers.
The panel determined that the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality required to reach the conclusion that the regulations for an impartial trial were observed.
The legal procedure in the case was incompatible with international agreements signed by the United States, which guarantee that any person accused of a crime has the right to make use, with full equality, of all the facilities necessary for preparing his or her defense, said the panel.
The working group concluded that those deficiencies are so grave that they confer an arbitrary character to the privation of liberty of those five persons," according to the AP cable.
Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañono, Fernando González and René González have denounced their trial as "evidently political." They are currently serving sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment and life terms.
The Five were arrested in September 1998 and held in solitary confinement for 17 months.
Leila Zerrougui, president of the working group, stated that she could not comment on the decision before the time granted to the United States to give its response.
"We adopted a decision and we have sent it to the United States," Zerrougui told AP on the phone from Algeria, where she lives. "But we cannot talk about it as part of our procedure."
The ruling of the panel, the fulfillment of which is not obligatory, urges the United States to adopt "the necessary measures to remedy the situation, in line with the principles expressed in the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights."
The case of the Five has attracted international attention, including the
creation of groups acting on their behalf in nine US cities and the backing of
Ramsey Clark, the former justice secretary, and Argentine Nobel Peace Prize
winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2005 10:16 PM
Subject: More news on UN & Cuban Five/sólo en inglés
Dear Friends of the Cuban Five:
The declaration of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the UN Human Rights Commission, on the wrongful treatment and unfair trial of the Cuban Five, is receiving considerable national and international coverage. The following is a sample of that coverage, from the Miami Herald and CBC News of Canada. This is an important development in gaining more recognition and support for their struggle for freedom.
National Committee to Free the
Miami Herald, July 14, 2005
UNITED NATIONS Panel: Miami trial of Cubans unfair
A U.N. human rights group has concluded that the trial in Miami and subsequent imprisonment of five alleged Cuban spies were flawed.
GENEVA - (AP) -- The U.S. detention of five Cubans convicted in a Miami trial of being spies is arbitrary and in violation of international law, according to a U.N. panel ruling obtained by The Associated Press Thursday.
The judgment by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the Cubans -- convicted in 2001 on charges of trying to infiltrate U.S. military bases and Cuban exile groups in South Florida -- were denied full access to evidence and to their lawyers.
The working group is one of several sections within the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Its makeup was not immediately known but its top official, Leila Zerrougui, an Algerian magistrate, has the title of Special Reporter.
Zerrougui told the AP by phone from Algeria that she could not comment on the decision because it was sent to the U.S. government for comment.
The Herald's efforts to reach some of the Miami prosecutors and defense lawyers involved in the trial were unsuccessful Thursday.
The ruling, which cannot be enforced under international law, urged the U.S. government to ``adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation, in conformity with principles stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.''
In its ruling, the panel found that the Cubans' trial ``did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality which is required in order to conclude on the observance of the standards of a fair trial.''
The ruling concluded that these failings ``are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of liberty of these five persons an arbitrary character.''
Geraldo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labanino, Fernando González and René González were arrested in September 1998 as part of the so-called Wasp Network.
They are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life.
The Cuban government has been carrying on a publicity campaign defending the five men.
U.S. detention of 5 Cubans is against international law, UN panel says
12:52 AM EDT Jul 16
GENEVA (AP) - The United States' detention of five Cubans convicted of being foreign spies is arbitrary and in violation of international law, according to a UN panel ruling, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.
The judgment by the UN working group on arbitrary detention found that the five Cubans, convicted in 2001 on charges of trying to infiltrate U.S. military bases and Cuban exile groups in South Florida, were denied full access to evidence and to their lawyers.
In its verdict, the panel found "the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality which is required in order to conclude on the observance of the standards of a fair trial."
Justice procedures for the case were incompatible with international agreements, which the United States is party to, that "guarantee that each person accused of a crime has the right to exercise, in full equality, all the adequate facilities to prepare his defence," the panel said.
The ruling concluded that these failings "are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of liberty of these five persons an arbitrary character."
Calling themselves "Cuban patriots," the confessed agents have denounced their trial as "blatantly political." They are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life.
The agents - Geraldo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez - were all arrested in September of 1998 and placed in solitary confinement for 17 months.
Leila Zerrougui, head of the working party, said she could not comment on the decision because the time frame for a U.S. response has yet to expire.
"We made a decision and we sent our decision to the government of the United States," Zerrougui told the AP by telephone from Algeria, where she lives and works. "But we cannot talk about it yet as part of the procedure."
The ruling by the panel, which cannot be enforced under international law, urged the United States to "adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation, in conformity with principles stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
The agents' case has attracted international attention. In anticipation of a 2004 appeal hearing, Free the Five committees sprouted in nine U.S. cities to arrange rallies for their release.
The five also have the support of former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark and Argentina's Adolfo Perez Esquivel, 1980 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker has denounced the trial as a miscarriage of justice.
Havana says the men committed no crime and were merely collecting information
about violent anti-Castro organizations they believed were planning terrorist
attacks against the island.
© The Canadian Press, 2005
Posted on Wed, Jul. 20, 2005
WASHINGTON Cuban spy ruling irks U.S. The State Department rejected a ruling by a United Nations panel questioning the conviction of five Cuban spies. BY NANCY SAN MARTIN firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON - The State Department said Tuesday it would not accept a "ridiculous and perplexing decision" made by a United Nations panel last week, which ruled that the detention of five Cuban spies convicted in Miami was arbitrary and in violation of international law.
A senior official told The Herald the ruling was a "politically motivated" maneuver orchestrated by the Cuban government and added that other efforts within the U.N. to take up the case had been rejected.
`NOT LETTING THIS GO'
A U.S. response to the panel's ruling is under way.
''We have a number of ideas on how to respond,'' said the official, who cannot be named due to department policy but was speaking officially for the U.S. government. ``We're not letting this go.''
The judgment came from the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, one of several sections within the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The group found that the five Cubans, convicted in Miami federal court in 2001, were denied full access to evidence and to their lawyers.
The panel also urged the U.S. government to ''adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation,'' The Associated Press reported.
''The defendants in this case were tried in federal court and convicted for being covert agents,'' the state department official said. ''They've never denied being covert agents. It's outrageous.'' The official said the ruling calls into question the work of the U.N. panel, citing provisions that stipulate that the group is supposed to provide a platform for individual complaints ``not for states to use to go after other states. It's a complete perversion of the process.''
According to the U.N. website: ``The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the only nontreaty-based mechanism whose mandate expressly provides for consideration of individual complaints.''
Established in 1991, the panel includes five members, currently from Algeria, Spain, Iran, Hungary and Paraguay.
The five convicted Cubans -- Geraldo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labanino, Fernando González and René González -- were arrested in September 1998 and are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life.