The Cuban Five’s Fernando Gonzalez Llort, met with Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, as the culmination of a week-long visit Saturday. teleSUR English interviewed him earlier in the week in Esteli.
The Cuban Five were imprisoned in the U.S. in 1998 and sentenced in 2001, accused of espionage. The Five say they were monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups plotting to attack Cuba.
Many countries registered their calls for the release of the three members of the Five still in jail, at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, where 188 out of 193 countries again voted overwhelmingly for an end to the US blockade of Cuba.
In recent weeks, U.S. newspaper, The New York Times published a series of editorials calling for the exchange of the remaining three Cuban Five in U.S. prisons, for United States citizens imprisoned in Cuba.
There has been new evidence, since the trial, which further exonerates the Five. A2010 Amnesty International report on the new evidence was enlightening:
“The new evidence that has emerged since the trial —of journalists being paid to plant prejudicial stories against the accused during the trial— also raises concern about equality of arms in that the government, unknown to the defendants, were stacking the case in the media —and also as we have seen very possibly in the court-room itself— in the prosecution’s favour.”
In Nicaragua, Gonzalez was honored with regional awards to mark the time he served as a political prisoner in the United States. His deeds were awarded in capital city Managua, as well as in Leon, Masaya and Esteli, and he was recognized by Nicaragua's National Assembly.
Gonzalez dedicated his visit to promoting solidarity in Nicaragua with his three companions, still in prison in the United States.
Fernando Gonzalez was released after finishing his prison sentence in February of this year. Another member of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez was released in 2013. The three still imprisoned are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero.
teleSUR: Have there been any legal developments?
Gonzalez: What's going on at the moment in legal terms is that a writ of habeas corpus is before the Florida District Court, the same court that tried us originally and before the same judge that has presided over the case for all these years. That writ argues that new evidence has appeared that was not known at the time of the trial, and might have changed the result of the trial at that time.
This evidence became known as a direct result of the solidarity campaign by thenational U.S. campaign to free the Five who got hold of files from the U.S. authorities via the Freedom of Information Act showing that, throughout our trial in Miami, taking three and a half years of litigation and six months of trial, a group of Miami journalists were producing supposedly independent articles as bone fide journalist unaffiliated to any political power.
“New evidence has appeared that was not known at the time of the trial, and might have changed the result of the trial at that time.”
But now we know, thanks to those files, that their material was really propaganda against us and Cuba, paid for by the US government, the very same government that was prosecuting us. After four years, the judge has yet to rule on that new evidence.
teleSUR: What are your hopes from the global solidarity campaign?
Gonzalez: For us the priority is to bring together all possible sectors and people with a sense of justice and ethics to join the demand for the freedom of our companions who are still in prison. The case was vitiated politically from the start. We were arrested, tried and subjected to the treatment we suffered, all for political reasons more than for legal reasons. The judgments against us in the courts, despite the sound legal arguments in our defence, were due to political reasons not legal ones.
“We ask our solidarity supporters ... to take into account how to project what they do towards the United States so as to influence people there”
For that reason the final decision in relation to freeing the three still in prison will be a political decision. We very much hope that the international solidarity movement - when planning activities and tasks, apart from the educative and information work on the case in each country - we hope that each country will work in support of the annual Five for the Five activity by the national campaign to Free the Five in the United States capital. Over five days they hold forums and activities about the Five, protests at the White House and lobbying work in the US Congress in order to educate Congress members and their staff on the reality of the Five, what the case consists of, why the case receives so much attention around the world.
So we ask our solidarity supporters and their friends among the things they do to take into account how to project what they do towards the United States so as to influence people there. Because it will be a political decision that sets our companions free. And that decision will be taken in the capital Washington by the President of the United States. We are very anxious that the President of the United States, and its structures of political power, sense the demand around the world for the freedom of our companions who are still in prison.