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US Embassy Refuses Letter From MPs. Crs. Unionists

US Embassy Refuses Letter From MPs CrsUnionists

6 April 2009

The US Embassy today refused to accept a hand delivered letter from MPs, City Councillors, trade unionists, church leaders,academics and other New Zealanders calling on the US Government not to oppose the petition to the US Supreme Court for the release of the Cuban 5. The US Government is require to respond to the petition this week.

An attempt to deliver the letter was made by Wellington City Councillor, Ray Ahipene Mercer and Secretary of the Weliington Cuba Friendship Society Gillian Magee but US Embassy Guards said they would not accept a hand delivered letter.

The letter has subsequently been posted to the US Embassy in Wellington and emailed to the US Attorney General Eric Holder.

The text of the letter:

New Zealand Committee to Free the Cuban F ive
PO Box 167, Lyttelton 8841, New Zealand

6 April 2009
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Re: Cuban Five

Dear Attorney General Holder

We, the undersigned New Zealanders are writing this letter to you on the eve of the US Government submitting a brief in response to the 30 January 09 petition to the Supreme Court and the twelve separate amicus curiae briefs that were filed in the US Supreme Court on 6 March 2009 regarding the unjust incarceration of five Cuban citizens - Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, René González Sehweret, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort - known as the Cuban 5.

We urge the United States Government to acknowledge that a complete miscarriage of justice has taken place regarding the Cuban 5 and to support, rather than oppose, a review of the conviction by the Supreme Court. We urge you to immediately release the Cuban 5.

In twelve separate briefs, an array of supporters worldwide – including ten Nobel Prize winners who have championed human rights (including East Timor President Jose Ramos-Hortaand Irish peacemaker Máiread Corrigan Maguire); the Mexican Senate; and Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland - have implored the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Miami convictions of five Cuban government agents. Those participants in the briefs were joined by hundreds of parliamentarians from the European Parliament and other parliaments around the world, including two former Presidents and three current Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, as well as numerous U.S. and foreign bar associations and human rights organizations.

We understand this is the largest number of amicus briefs ever to have urged Supreme Court to review a criminal conviction.

This extraordinary support for the Cuban 5’s case arises from widespread concern in the United States and around the world that their trial was conducted in an atmosphere tainted by prejudice against agents of the Cuban government and fear of retaliation, which amici say prevented the jury from fairly evaluating the charges against the 5.

Among others, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has condemned the Miami trial of the Cuban agents, marking the first and only time in history that that body has condemned a U.S. judicial proceeding. Citing a “climate of bias and prejudice” in Miami, the Commission’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions concluded that the “trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required to conform to the standards of a fair trial.”

The Cuban 5 were arrested in 1998 and tried in Miami. These five men did not violate any U.S. Laws; their mission was to infiltrate and monitor the activities of violent groups of Cuban exile in order to report their planned threats back to Cuba. The information gathered by these men regarding acts of terrorism against Cuba being planned by these groups was given to the FBI right before their detention. But instead of arresting those who were planning violent acts against Cuba, the FBI arrested these five Cuban men.

On August 2005, the 11th Circuit three-judge panel unanimously overturned all the Five’s convictions and ordered a new trial. But after former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ direct intervention on the government’s behalf, the 11th Circuit full panel set aside the 3-judge panel opinion and confirmed the Five’s Convictions.

For almost ten years these five 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 the visit of their wives.

Again, and for the third time, on August 20, 2007, oral arguments took place in the Atlanta 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This has been a very long process and in the mean time, children are growing without their parents, wives without their husbands and mothers without their sons. More and more people around the world and here in the United States are becoming aware of this case and are supporting their release.

In June 2008, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentences for Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez, and sent the cases of Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero back to the Miami Court for re-sentencing.

On January 30, 2009, the legal team filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to consider reviewing the case. On 6 March the amicus curiae briefs were filed.

We urge you, as the new US attorney general, immediately intervene and release the Cuban 5. At a very minimum we urge you to support the review of the case by the Supreme Court.

Yours faithfully

Ray Ahipene-Mercer Wellington City Councillor

Hone Harawira MP Te Tai Tokerau Electorate New Zealand House of Representatives

Sue Bradford MP Green Party List, New Zealand House of Representatives

Ken Douglas Porirua City Councillor

Hon Laila Harré Former MP and Minister, National Secretary National Distribution Union

Hon Matt Robson Dep. Leader Progressive Party, former NZ Assoc. - Minister of Foreign Affairs

Peter Conway Secretary, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Trevor Hanson General Secretary, Maritime Union of New Zealand

Brian Turner (Rev), Methodist Minister

Prof. Jane Kelsey Auckland University School of Law

Robert Reid, President, National Distribution Union

Mike Treen National Director, Unite Union

Victor Billot Alliance Party National Spokesperson

Barney Richards President Peace Council Aotearoa New Zealand

Warren Brewer WISSE

Russell Mayn Assistant General Secretary, Maritime Union of New Zealand

Joe Fleetwood Wellington Seafarers Branch Secretary, Maritime Union of New Zealand

Mary McTavish Programme Co-ordinator - Akoranga Ngātahi*

Julie Webb-Pullman

Hugh Gaw

Dr R H Lovell-Smith Senior Lecturer Department of English University of Auckland*

Jim Holdom

Tom Dowie

Carla Batista

Greg Kleis

Dora May Sutcliffe

Richard Keller Wellington

Alicia Jrapko, Argentinean, resident in the United States

Paul Maunder

Wellington Cuban Friendship Society of New Zealand

Des Brough

Eric Gamble, Christchurch New Zealand.

Paul Piesse President Alliance Party

Kay Murray Alliance Party Co-leader

Luke Coxon Organiser, National Distribution Union

Maxine Gay Sector Secretary, National Distribution Union

Mary Hamilton *

Richard Tingey Levin

Raymond Vogt* Petone

Jared Phillips, Organiser, Unite

Simon Oosterman National Distribution Union

Andrew Campbell Campaigns Director, Finsec Union

Dale Frew WISSE

Val Flint Waikato

Craig A. Wills WISSE

Dion Martin Organiser, National Distribution Union

Denis O'Connor Christchurch

Sam Murray Wellington

Cuba Friendship Society - Otautahi-Christchurch NZ

R Anderson J.P. Wisse *
Seamus Coogan

Adela Brent QLD Australia

Gillian Magee Secretary, Wellington Cuba Friendship Society, Administrator NDU.

Katia Cisternas

Victor Batista

Adrian Guerrero


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