8 February 2006
Harold Pinter and 110 MPs call on US Attorney General to release Five Cubans held in US prisons
Nobel prize winner, Harold Pinter, 110 MPs, and 15 trade union General Secretaries are among the thousands of British names on an open letter sent by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to the US Attorney General today calling for the immediate release of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.
The five Cubans, known internationally as ‘The Miami 5’ have been in US prisons for more than 7 years despite having their convictions overturned by an Appeal Court in Atlanta. The Open letter has been released by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in advance of a new hearing for the men that takes place on 13 February 2006.
Many MPs were moved to add their names to the letter after a meeting at the House of Commons with wife of one of the prisoners, Olga Salanueva, in December. At the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba meeting, MPs heard how Mrs Salanueva and her 7 year old daughter Ivette had been unable to visit Rene Gonzalez for 5 years because the US refuses to grant a visa.
Chair of the APPG Dr Ian Gibson said “The fact that these men were arrested and charged with spying because they infiltrated US based groups carrying out terrorist attacks on Cuba, exposes the hypocrisy of the United States War on Terror.”
The open letter which also condemns the treatment of the prisoners’ families has been signed by 10,000 people in Britain, and tens of thousands more internationally including Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker.
Just one week ago, Amnesty International also joined the international call for a retrial of the prisoners. In a letter to the US State Department the international human rights group raised “urgent concerns” and “serious questions” about the fairness of their convictions.
On hearing how many MPs and supporters had signed the letter, Olga Salanueva, thanked the British Cuba Solidarity Campaign and public for their support. Speaking from Cuba she said: “During these seven years of suffering and sorrow, we the relatives of the Five, feel that we are not alone because we can count on honest people like you. The fact that Harold Pinter has also signed this letter along with more than 100 MPs really shows our families that the solidarity I felt when I was in the UK in December 2005 is a real force. I am sure that support such as this from friends across the world will help to bring our loved ones home.”
Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign said: “The Cuba Solidarity Campaign first wrote to MPs in late December about the case. The fact that more than 100 have already signed the open letter in such a short space of time is testament to strength of injustice is felt throughout Britain about this case.”
For further information please contact Natasha Hickman on
020 7263 6452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture caption: Dr Ian Gibson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba with Olga Salanueva, her daughter Ivette, and Anna Myra of the Cuban Free the Five campaign, during a meeting with MPs at the House of Commons in December 2005
Notes to Editors:
1 The Miami Five are Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. They were sentenced to prison terms of between 15 to 25 years in the USA after being convicted of conspiracy to act as agents of the Cuban government and related charges.
2 In August 2005, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of the prisoners and ordered a retrial. This was based on a finding that the pervasive community prejudice against the defendants in the trial venue of Miami, and the publicity and events surrounding the trial, created a situation where they were unable to obtain a fair and impartial hearing.
3 In May 2005 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, part of the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights, ruled that the detention of the five men was arbitrary and in violation of international law.
4 Open letter wording:
Mr. Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States of America
According to information supplied by International Press, on August 9, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta declared null and void the decision passed in Miami which had condemned Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, René González Sehwerert, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort for infiltrating the extremist Cuban American groups in the south of Florida in order to obtain information about terrorist activities directed against Cuba. Their prison sentences had already been declared illegal by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.
For the past seven years, these five young men have been held in maximum security prisons; they have been held incommunicado in isolated cells for long periods of time and two of them have been denied the right to receive family visits.
At this present time, considering the nullification of the sentence, nothing justifies their incarceration. This arbitrary situation, which is extremely painful for them and their families, cannot be allowed to continue. We, who have signed below, are demanding their immediate liberation.
5 A list of key signatories to the Open letter can be found below and at www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk or by emailing email@example.com
6 For the full text of the Amnesty International letter go to http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=667
7 Further information about the Miami Five can be found at
British signatories to the open letter on the Miami Five to the US Attorney General
110 Members of Parliament
Dr Ashok Kumar,
Angela E Smith,
Sir Peter Soulsby,
Liberal Democrat (10)
Dr Evan Harris,
Plaid Cymru (2)
Trade Union General Secretaries
Brendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC.
Bob Crow, RMT, General Secretary.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ, General Secretary.
John Hannett, USDAW, General Secretary.
Billy Hayes, CWU, General Secretary.
Steve Kemp, NUM, General Secretary.
Paul Kenny, GMB, Acting General Secretary.
Paul Mackney, NATFHE, General Secretary.
Joe Marino, BFAWU, General Secretary.
Doug Nicholls, CYWU, General Secretary.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary.
Alan Ritchie, UCATT General Secretary.
Derek Simpson, AMICUS General Secretary.
Tony Woodley, TGWU General Secretary.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary.