Friday, February 28, 2014

Global Impact: Second Member of "Cuban Five" Spy Ring Released Earlier Today

According to The Guardian,  a second member of the “Cuban Five” spy ring was released yesterday (February 27) from a US prison after spending more than 15 years behind bars.

The five inmates, hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the US. They were known as part of the “Wasp Network” sent by Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida.

Fernando González known to US authorities by his alias, Ruben Campa, completed his sentence at 0400 hours time in a prison in Arizona, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

González was turned over immediately to immigration officials. He will be deported to Cuba as soon as possible, said Michelle Alvárez, spokeswoman for the Miami US Attorney’s Office.

COMMENT: Trial testimony showed they sought to infiltrate military bases, including the headquarters of the US Southern Command and installations in the Florida Keys. They also kept tabs on Cuban exiles opposed to the communist government in Havana and sought to place operatives inside campaigns of US politicians opposed to that government, prosecutors said.

Havana maintains that the agents posed no threat to US sovereignty and were only monitoring militant exiles to prevent terrorist attacks in Cuba, the best known of which was a series of bombings of Havana hotels that killed an Italian tourist in 1997. Cuban leaders regularly call for the men to be released.

González was originally sentenced to 19 years but had his prison term reduced after the 11th US circuit court of appeals said he was wrongly labeled a supervisor of other spies for certain activities. Two others also had their prison sentences reduced by that same court order, including 55-year-old Antonio Guerrero, who is scheduled to be released in September 2017.

One of the five, Gerardo Hernández, is serving a life prison sentence for murder conspiracy for his role in the 1996 killings of four “Brothers to the Rescue” pilots whose aircraft were shot down by Cuban fighter jets.