Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cuban spy appeals his Miami conviction

Posted on Tuesday, 08.21.12

Cuban spy appeals his Miami conviction

Convicted spy Gerardo Hernández argues that the U.S. government
broadcaster paid journalists to write negative stories about the Wasp
By Juan O. Tamayo

An appeals lawyer for the leader of five Cuban spies convicted in a
Miami trial filed an affidavit Monday arguing that Radio/TV Marti
secretly paid millions of dollars to journalists to influence jury
members against his client.

The document was filed in support of Gerardo Hernández's habeas corpus
appeal filed earlier this year, asking U.S. District Court Judge Joan
Lenard, who presided over the "Wasp Network" trial, to overturn his

Hernández is serving two life sentences on charges that encrypted
reports he sent to Havana helped Cuban MiG jets shoot down two unarmed
Brothers to the Rescue airplanes over international waters in 1996,
killing all four South Florida men aboard.

Martin Garbus, a prominent civil rights lawyer, argued in the brief that
the U.S. government tainted the jurors in the trial of the five Cubans
by using the U.S. government-owned Radio/TV Marti to hire journalists
expressly to produce reports condemning the spies.

The New York attorney noted that some of the payments were secret — the
affidavit uses the word 55 times — and argued that prosecutors should
have revealed them to the defense during the trial. The government's
continuing refusal to make some information public amounts to a
cover-up, he added.

The negative reporting amounted to illegal propaganda "by agents, not
journalists," designed to predispose potential jurors to convict the
five, Garbus added. He gave no details on the 12 jurors who convicted
the five.

"Every dollar for every article, image, radio or television show that
was spent on this secret program violated the integrity of the trial,"
Garbus wrote.

Radio/TV Marti and the dozen or so South Florida journalists mentioned
in the affidavit have previously denied those allegations, first made
public in 2006.

The five confessed that they are Cuban intelligence agents but insisted
they were only monitoring radical exiles who might stage terrorist
attacks on the island. Two reported on U.S. military flights out of the
Florida Keys and Tampa, and the network tried repeatedly to infiltrate
the Pentagon's Miami-based Southern Command.

All five were convicted of 23 spying-related charges. Hernandez, Ramón
Labañino, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero remain in U.S. prisons.
René González finished serving his 13-year sentence in October but is
now serving three years of parole somewhere in the United States.

The habeas corpus appeal, filed earlier this year, is Hernandez's
last-ditch effort to overturn his conviction. The U.S. Supreme court
already has refused to consider an appeal that the five did not get a
fair trial in Miami.

The Cuban government has maintained a long-running publicity campaign
defending the "Five Heroes" and all but offered to swap them for Alan
Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year sentence in


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