"He was and will always be a real example of freedom, peace and victory," Labañino wrote in a message released this weekend by the National Committee to Free the Five in the United States.
Labañino also sent condolences to Mandelaâ's family and friends and all of South Africa on behalf of his comrades and the entire Cuban people.
"His world stature as a leader, a symbol of justice and optimism, accompany us forever," said the message.
Labañino and his comrades Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were arrested in the United States in 1998 and given unfairly harsh prison sentences for monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups operating against Cuba. They are internationally known as the Cuban Five.
Rene is now in Cuba after serving his prison sentence and an additional period of supervised release and giving up his US citizenship.
With his message, Labañino joins world leaders, international organizations, figures and social and political groups that lament the death of Mandela, who passed away yesterday at the age of 95 at his residence in Johannesburg.
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