Fernando González of Cuban 5 released!

From ABC News:

A second member of the “Cuban Five” — the spy ring whose arrests and convictions have caused repeated tensions between Washington and Havana — was released Thursday from a U.S. prison after spending more than 15 years behind bars.

Fifty-year-old Fernando Gonzalez, known to U.S. authorities by the alias Ruben Campa, completed his sentence at 4 a.m. local time a prison in Safford, Ariz., Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

Now the Five, as they are sometimes called, are down to three.

Gonzalez was turned over immediately to the custody of immigration officials, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. For security reasons, she said she could not disclose exactly where he was being held or when he would be returned to Cuba, but a deportation order has already been issued.

The five men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. They were known as part of the “Wasp Network” sent by Cuba’s then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida.

Trial testimony showed they sought to infiltrate military bases, including the headquarters of the U.S. 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 U.S. politicians opposed to that government, prosecutors said.

Havana maintains that the agents posed no threat to U.S. 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.

Cuba announced a concert Saturday night at the University of Havana in honor of the five men, though it was not immediately clear whether Gonzalez would be in Cuba by then.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma published interviews Thursday with two of Gonzalez’s friends back home. Rafael Hojas said the two knew each other as young students and crossed paths on international missions in Africa.

“I hope he spends as little time as possible in an immigration jail and can enjoy as soon as possible his mother, his wife, his family, and we’ll see when we might be able to meet,” Hojas was quoted as saying.

Gonzalez’s mother, Magali Llort, told The Associated Press that she sometimes thinks her son’s release is a dream “but luckily it’s a great reality. But we can’t feel satisfied with Fernando arriving and Rene having come. We have to keep up the fight so that the rest, their brothers, are here,” she said.

The Cuban Five have sometimes been linked to the case of American Alan Gross, who has spent four years in a Cuban prison after he was arrested while working covertly to set up Internet access for the island’s Jewish community. He was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which Cuba considers bent on undermining its government.

Cuba has suggested it might swap Gross for the Cuban Five, but Washington has rejected any such deal.

Cuban 5: New sentences for Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and Ramón Labañino

Free the 5December 8, 2009

Today concluded the re-sentencing process for Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Ramón Labañino in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, ordered by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Fernando Gonzalez’ original sentence (19 years) was modified to 17 years plus 9 months in prison and Ramón Labañino (1 life term plus 18 years) reduced to 30 years in prison. Antonio Guerrero’s hearing was held on October 13, 2009. His original sentence (1 life term plus 10 years) was reduced to 21 years plus 10 months and 5 years of supervised release. The sentences of Gerardo Hernandez (2 life terms plus 15 years) and René González (15 years), having been ratified by the Court of Appeals, were excluded of this
re-sentencing process.

Following is the statement issued by Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Labañino on December 8, 2009

Dear Sisters and Brothers from Cuba and from all over the World:

We have already served more than 11 years in prison and there is still no justice at any level of the American legal system.

Three of us have come to the Miami Court to be re-sentenced due to an order from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined that our sentences had been erroneously imposed.

Our brother Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving two life terms plus 15 years, has been arbitrarily excluded from this re-sentencing process. His situation remains the principal injustice in our case. The US Government is well aware of the falseness of the accusations against him and the unfairness of his sentence.

This has been a complex process, difficult and much discussed in every detail, in which we participated along with our counsels. We did not give an inch in our principles, decorum and honor, always defending our innocence and the dignity of our Homeland.

Just as it did at the moment of our arrest and at other occasions during these long years, the US Government proposes now that we collaborate to obtain more benevolent sentences. Once again, we have rejected such proposals, something that we never will accept under any circumstances.

Present in the results of these re-sentencing hearings are the work of the legal team and the indestructible solidarity of all of you.

It is significant that the US Government, for the first time in 11 years, was obliged to recognize that we did not cause any damage to its national security.

Also, for the first time, the prosecutor publicly recognized the existence of a strong international movement in support of our immediate freedom, a movement that affects the image of the US judicial system in the eyes of the international community.

Once again the absolute political character of this process is confirmed.

We the Five are punished for accusations that never have been proved. Although three of our sentences were partially reduced, the injustice remains for all of us.

The Cuban-American terrorists continue to enjoy total impunity.

We reiterate: The Five are innocent!

We feel profoundly moved and grateful for the permanent solidarity that you give us, so crucial in this long battle for justice.

Together with you, we will continue until the final victory, which only
will be reached with the return of the Five to our Homeland.

Antonio Guerrero
Fernando González
Ramón Labañino

Miami, December 8, 2009