On June 15, 2009 the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the Cuban 5. The Court’s refusal to hear this case lets stand the 2001 convictions in Miami Florida of these five defendants who came to Miami not to spy on the United States but to try to stop the ongoing terrorist activities against Cuba emanating from the powerful Cuban exile community in Miami. All five were convicted of being unregistered foreign agents, as well as conspiracy to commit espionage. One was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the 1996 shoot down of planes flown by Brothers to the Rescue which had been engaging in illegal invasions of Cuban airspace. Four of the five received life sentences for their actions even though there was no evidence presented in court to show any espionage against the United States or that there was any conspiracy regarding the shoot down.
Despite well supported motions to change venue out of Miami, the government insisted that the trial take place in the community where the pressure of the exile community has been greatest. There is no question that these five were denied a fair trial in Miami. Indeed, the first appeal panel which heard the case found the political climate in Miami was a “perfect storm” of prejudice which denied the five a fair trial.
The Supreme Court received an unprecedented number of amicus briefs supporting the call for review of convictions. IADL, AAJ and NLG submitted amicus briefs addressing the unfairness of the trial in Miami. These briefs brought together lawyers and lawyer organizations from throughout the world which should have impressed on the Court the fact that the whole world was watching this case. The Court’s failure to hear this case must be politically motivated in that agreement to hear the case would have angered a group of politically extreme and powerful elements in the Miami Cuban exile community. It is no exaggeration that this community has had considerable influence on United States policies toward Cuba, and is responsible for the failure of the United States and Cuba to normalize relations and the continuing illegal blockade and embargo by the United States against the Cuban people for over 50 years. The idea that these five could have received a fair trial in miami defies logic. Given that the world community of jurists had urged the Court to stand up for the universal right to a fair trial by impartial fact finders the Court’s refusal to hear the case is an unprecedented defiance of world opinion.
The IADL, AAJ and NLG urge the Court to reconsider its refusal to hear the case and supports all efforts to try to free these defendants who have been in jail more than ten years for trying to prevent terrorism against Cuba.