US, defense agree on 20-year term for 1 Cuban spy

US, defense agree on 20-year term for 1 Cuban spy by Curt Anderson Oct. 9, 2009 Reprinted from Miami Herald MIAMI — A Cuban man originally sentenced to life in prison for spying in the U.S. would instead receive only a 20-year term under an agreement filed in court Friday by federal prosecutors and the man’s attorney. The deal was reached in the case of Antonio Guerrero, one of the so-called Cuban Five convicted in 2001 of espionage conspiracy and other charges. An appeals court last year threw out the sentences of Guerrero and two others as unjustifiably harsh. All five convictions were upheld. Guerrero, 50, is scheduled to receive his new sentence at a Tuesday hearing before U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard. A decision on new sentences for the other two – Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez – has been postponed. The appeals court ruled there was insufficient evidence to justify a life sentence, because Guerrero never obtained or transmitted top secret U.S. military information. Prosecutors said he infiltrated the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West and tried to provide information to Cuba’s intelligence service, but was not successful in passing along anything classified or secret. Although Lenard could still sentence Guerrero to another life sentence, the agreement makes that unlikely. Given time served since his September 1998 arrest, Guerrero would have about nine more years to serve under the deal. Guerrero attorney Leonard Weinglass called the agreement “reasonable.” He said Guerrero has spent most of his sentence at one of the nation’s highest-security prisons at Florence, Colo., where he has been a model prisoner who teaches classes in Spanish, chess and art. “He is a very intelligent individual who has used his abilities in a positive way while incarcerated,” Weinglass said in court papers, noting also that Guerrero has not seen his youngest son since his 1998 arrest. The Cuban Five, hailed as heroes in Cuba, were part of the “Wasp Network” of spies that sought to penetrate U.S. military installations, spy on Cuban exiles and monitor politicians opposed to Cuba’s communist regime. At least one of the five was involved in the 1996 downing of three Cuban exile Brothers to the Rescue planes by a Cuban jet fighter, according to trial testimony. The remaining two Cubans who are due to get new sentences are in a dispute with prosecutors over whether the U.S. performed any espionage damage assessments that might bear on their ultimately punishment. Lenard delayed hearings for those two to allow time for those arguments. Read the resentencing memorandum filed with the court (pdf)

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