Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Miami Five member René González seeks permission to visit dying brother in Cuba

René González awaits ruling on emergency travel request filed with Florida court

René González, one of the members of the Miami Five arrested in 1998 and sentenced to a long prison term for espionage, has asked a federal judge to allow him to return home to Havana to visit his brother, who is said to be in the final stages of terminal brain cancer. Attorneys for González filed the request last week with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. They're awaiting a ruling from judge Joan Lenard.

The Miami Five were accused of spying for the Castro regime, and all received lengthy sentences. Four of them remain in prison, but González was released on October 7, 2011 after serving 13 years. Last year he asked to be allowed to return to his family in Havana, but the U.S. government objected, insisting that he serve another 36 months of conditional release in the United States. In a September 16 ruling Lenard sided with prosecutors. González, who holds joint U.S. and Cuban citizenship, remains in the United States and cannot leave for any reason without court permission.

The Miami Five are national heroes in Cuba. The Castro government has repeatedly demanded their release, arguing that they did nothing illegal. Cuban officials, including Fidel Castro, were infuriated when Lenard refused to let González return home after his lengthy incarceration in the United States.

In the Feb. 24 legal motion González asked permission to spend two weeks in Havana, where he'll stay with his wife and daughters. González promised to return to the United States to complete his term of conditional release. His parole officer, quoted in the motion, said that González has been fully compliant since his release from federal prison last fall.
Motion to Travel

The decision to hold González is disgraceful. He should have been allowed to return to Havana immediately after his release from prison last year. Here's why:

Continued detention of the Miami Five -- after a decade and a half of U.S. incarceration -- is also the sole reason that convicted American contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15 year sentence for state security crimes in Cuba, hasn't been released (and won't be). Alan Gross exposed:

Update Mar. 19: U.S. judge allows Miami Five member René González to visit his dying brother:

Hat-in-hand to Havana:
Cuba urges Miami Five supporters to launch White House communications blitz:

The Miami Five

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