'Cuban Five' agent reported back in Havana
In this Feb. 17, 2014 photo, Rene Gonzalez, the "Cuban Five," poses for a portrait under a framed picture of Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba. Gonzalez was an unknown young pilot in 1990 when he pretended to steal a crop duster in Cuba and flew to Florida, using cover as a Cuban defector to spy on targets in the United States. The Cuba Five refers to intelligence agents in the employ of Fidel Castro's Cuba, they were arrested in the United States in 1998 and given terms ranging from 15 years to consecutive life sentences on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents.
The Associated Press
HAVANA — A second member of the "Cuban Five" returned to the Caribbean island and a hero's welcome Friday, a day after leaving a prison in the United States, where he spent 15 years behind bars on spy-related charges.
Fernando Gonzalez arrived at the Havana airport around noon local time, state television and the government-run website Cubadebate reported. They promised more details later.
The 50-year-old Gonzalez and four others were arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.
Trial testimony showed they sought to infiltrate military bases and monitored militant Cuban exile groups opposed to the communist government in Havana, prosecutors said.
Havana hails the men as heroes and maintains they were only keeping tabs on the exile groups to prevent terrorist attacks in Cuba. It says they were no threat to U.S. sovereignty, and calls the long prison sentences unjust.
Rene Gonzalez — no relation — became the first to finish his sentence in 2011. He returned to Cuba last year after serving part of a judge-imposed period of supervised release and renouncing his American citizenship.
The others are still behind bars in the United States.
"Those of us who love (Fernando Gonzalez) and admire him celebrate him today," fellow agent Gerardo Hernandez, who is still in prison, said in a statement published by Cuban media.
"Convinced that our struggle (to be released) is reinforced by another standard-bearer man, we sent him a big hug," he said.
A celebratory concert in honor of the "Cuban Five" was planned for Saturday night at the University of Havana.