MARIANNA, Fla (Reuters) – A Cuban agent jailed for spying on Cuban exiles in Florida was freed from a US prison yesterday but must remain in the United States for three years on probation, a condition Cuba says puts his life in danger.
Rene Gonzalez, 55, the first to be freed of the so-called “Cuban Five” espionage agents arrested in 1998, left the Marianna prison in Florida’s northwest Panhandle at around 4 am EDT (0900 GMT) and was reunited with his two daughters, father and brother, attorney Philip Horowitz told Reuters.
“He was in great spirits, very happy to see his family, to be out, he had a smile on his face,” Horowitz said. Gonzalez had served 13 years of a 15-year sentence.
Horowitz said he would renew an appeal against the requirement that Gonzalez, who has dual US-Cuban citizenship, spend three years of supervised release in the United States. He would make the request for “humanitarian reasons”, because Gonzalez had no family living in the United States.
The case of the five — the other four are still serving long U.S. jail terms — has been an irritant to already poisoned US-Cuba ties. These have deteriorated further since the jailing by communist Cuba of a US aid contractor, Alan Gross, who was sentenced this year to 15 years in prison.
The same Florida judge who had sentenced Gonzalez and his fellow Cuban spies in 2001 denied a motion presented last month by Horowitz for the terms of the convicted man’s supervised release to be modified so he could immediately return to Cuba.