Rene of the Cuban Five May Travel to Cuba

Rene Gonzalez. Photo: Bill Hackwell

HAVANA TIMES, March 20 — A US federal judge in Miami authorized a convicted Cuban “spy” to travel to Cuba for two weeks for humanitarian reasons, reported dpa news on Tuesday.

Rene Gonzalez is one of five Cuban intelligence agents (known internationally as the Cuban Five) arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to spy in the United States.

The case has long affected relations between Washington and Havana.

Gonzalez, 55, was sentenced to 15 years in jail and was released in October 2011 on a three-year probation regime that prevents him from travelling to Cuba to be with his wife and family.

The remaining four members of the group are still in prison.

Judge Joan Lenard approved the request from Gonzalez to visit his brother, who is suffering from terminal lung cancer, as long as he fulfils several conditions and returns within two weeks.

Whether Gonzalez is effectively allowed to travel still depends on permission from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

He will need to submit a detailed itinerary for his stay in Cuba to his probation officer and report by phone to the officer from Havana, among other requirements.

“It’s a humanitarian trip. It has nothing to do with politics,” Gonzalez’s lawyer Philip Horowitz was quoted as telling The Miami Herald.

The Cuba Five were arrested in 1998, and their trial has been criticized as biased by jurists in the United States, at the United Nations and beyond. Cuban authorities stress that their mission was only to thwart attacks on Cuba planned within Miami’s militant exile community.