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NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five Launched

NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five Launched

10th Anniversary of unjust detention by the US

Parliamentarians, Lawyers, academics, politicians, trade unionists and other ordinary New Zealanders have today launched a NZ committee for the release of the 5 Cuban patriots unjustly held in US prisons for trying to prevent terrorism against their country and its people.

The so-called crime of the 5 was to gather information about terrorist groups that operate on US soil and carry out attacks in Cuba. The actions of the 5 helped prevent terrorist actions and protected innocent civilians. It is a travesty of justice for them to remain in jail for so long.

On 4 June 2008 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, upheld the convictions of the 5; Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. This led to protests in the US and around the world.

On 2 September 2008, the full panel of the Atlanta Court of Appeals denied the defence request for a full-panel hearing to reconsider the Court's 4 June 2008 decision in the case of the Cuban Five. The 4 June decision upheld the guilty verdicts of the 5, reaffirmed the sentences of Gerardo (two life sentences plus 15 years) and René (15 years), and ordered Judge Joan Lenard in Miami to initiate a process leading to new sentences for Ramón, Antonio and Fernando. The lawyers for the Five have until 1 December 2008 to ask the United States Supreme Court to consider an appeal of the case.

The Cuban Five were engaged in a peaceful mission to stop Miami-based organisations from continuing to carry out terrorist attacks against Cuba. Following their arrest they were held for 17 months in brutal conditions of solitary confinement and near-total isolation to hinder the preparation of their defence.

At their trial there was not a single page of classified information produced showing espionage or any action directed against the U.S. government. Without any proof, frame-up charges of conspiracy were used to convict the five. They were tried and convicted in an atmosphere of hype and hysteria in Miami, Florida.

These men have been held in jail now for ten years. Continuation of their imprisonment is an absolute injustice. 10 years is too long. We urge the United States government to Free the Cuban Five now!

Included among the 80 Initiators are
Hon Jim Anderton, Leader of the Progressive Party, Minister
Dr David V Williams, Professor of Law, University of Auckland
Sue Bradford, Green Party MP
Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law, University of Auckland
Gerald O'Brien, Former Member of the Parliament of New Zealand
Hon Matt Robson , Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party ,Associate-Foreign Affairs Minister 1999-2002.
Peter Cranney, Lawyer, Wellington
Helen Kelly, President NZCTU
Hon Laila Harre, National Secretary, National Distribution Union, Auckland.
(Former NZ Cabinet Minister)
Robert Reid, President, National Distribution Union, Wellington
Cr Paul Bruce, Greater Wellington Regional Councillor, Wellington.
Des Brough, Peace Council Aotearoa
Dr Carol, Worthington
Ken Douglas, ONZ, Councillor, former President of NZCTU

The full list of the Committee Initiators can be seen here


The online version of the Petition is here here

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