Cuban Spies Convicted Wires
Saturday, June 9, 2001

MIAMI (UPI) - A 12-member federal court jury found five men guilty Friday of all 26 counts of spying in the United States for Cuba, including a charge against one defendant of helping to set up a Cuban MiG attack that killed four Miamians.

The jury, including five Hispanics but no Cuban-Americans, deliberated for 28 hours over five days in a trial that lasted six months.

The prosecution said in closing arguments the five were single-minded spies bent on stealing U.S. military secrets and menacing south Florida's Cuban escapees. The defense did not deny the five were spying but claimed they were doing it legally by collecting information from the media and other public sources.

Much of the trial involved the Cuban MiG attack that downed two Brothers to the Rescue light planes in 1996. Gerardo Hernandez was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of the four fliers.

Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino were convicted of conspiring to gather U.S. national defense information. Labanino infiltrated U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami, and Guerrero worked as a janitor at Boca Chica Naval Air Station in the Florida Keys. The maximum penalty for all three is life in prison.

The Pentagon said no secrets were lost, but the prosecution argued that was their objective.

All five, including the other two defendants, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, were found guilty of failing to register with the U.S. attorney general's office as agents of a foreign nation. Rene Gonzalez was a Brothers to the Rescue volunteer, and Fernando Gonzalez was convicted of receiving coded messages from communist Cuba.

The Gonzalezes, who are not related, could face 10 years in prison.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.