By CIRCLES ROBINSON
HAVANA TIMES, January 31 – The prison camp the US maintains at the Guantanamo Naval Base on occupied Cuban territory is a dark spot that Barack Obama wants to erase on the country’s international image. Likewise, the holding of five Cubans as political prisoners at federal prisons for over a decade has been equally repudiated, although much less publicized.
As of Friday, the Cuban Five case is now in the hands of the US Supreme Court after the defense team led by attorney Thomas Goldstein of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP filed their appeal.
Shortly after taking office, Obama signed his first executive order to begin a process to close down the Guantanamo prison. Now it remains to be seen how his administration will act in the Cuban Five case, considered by Havana to be more about a half century of hostile politics than justice.
The Cuban Five were accused of conspiracy to spy in their 2001 politically-charged Miami trial, but any evidence of such conduct was withheld from the defense with the US government alleging “classified information.”
During the court case, the defendants admitted they had gathered information on the plans of Cuban exile groups allowed by US authorities to train and operate in Southern Florida in preparation for attacks on the island or its interests aboard.
It’s now public record that the Cuban government shared intelligence gathered by the Cuban Five with the FBI back in 1998. However, instead of detaining the terrorists, the FBI arrested the informants, who have now been in jail for over 10 years.
The hypocrisy of such an action became even more evident when the Bush administration began its war on terrorism after 9/11.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and jurists from around the world have said Washington acted in bad faith in the Cuban Five case, which is now reaching the final rung of a long drawn out appeals process.
Doubting the impartiality of a court system influenced by politics, the Cuban government has maintained throughout that pressure from US public opinion could affect the dynamic of the case. However, the media silence has made it difficult for most people to learn about the injustice.
With President Obama hinting in his campaign of new possibilities for dialogue to break the icy US-Cuba relations under Bush, there’s no doubt that this case will be one of the agenda items of any negotiations, as well as the “dissidents” that Washington has said should be released from prison in Cuba.
A decision from the Supreme Court justices on whether to take the appeal under consideration is expected this spring, reported CNN. If the case is added to the docket, oral arguments would be held in the fall.
To read more on the Cuban Five appeal lodged Friday at the US Supreme Court click: