This event is free and open to the public and we encourage you to join us there.
September 13, 2013, 6pm
University of the District of Columbia Law School
Moot Court Room
4200 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia
To mark the 15th anniversary of the unjust arrest of the Cuban 5, an important forum will be held at UDC featuring:
- Danny Glover - actor, producer, and humanitarian
- Richard Klugh - trial and appelate attorney on Cuban Five legal team
- Mara Verheyden-Hilliard - Executive Director, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
- Chrisarla Houston - Associate Professor and Legal Writing Program Director
- Gloria La Riva - Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Sponsored by: National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Black Law Students Association, Black Men's Law Society, Latino/a Law Student Association, National Lawyers Guild-UDC, and the Criminal Justice Society of the UDC Law School
Attorneys from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) have filed a major Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for its refusal to produce responsive materials in its possession about secret payments by the U.S. government to Miami-based journalists who were reporting on the case of the Cuban Five prior to the trial, during the trial and while the jury was deliberating.
The Cuban Five were arrested on September 12, 1998, and the seven-month trial began in November 2000.
“The State Department is withholding documents that cover a critical time period for the Cuban Five. The documents that were requested would cover the U.S. government’s payments to Miami-based journalists at the very time the U.S. government was prosecuting the Cuban Five,” stated attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.
Attorney Carl Messineo, Legal Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, explained: “It appears the government manipulated domestic public opinion to advance their political and prosecution goals. This lawsuit seeks underlying records."
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has served as the legal arm of a multi-year Freedom of Information Act effort that has uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased materials revealing that the U.S. government was paying Miami-based journalists who saturated the Miami media with reports that were highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the Cuban Five at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution of the men.
The Cuban Five were subject not only to a politically-motivated prosecution, but to a government-funded propaganda operation as well. That the U.S. Government paid journalists who were placing incendiary stories about Cuba and the Cuban Five in the Miami press during the period of the U.S. Government's arrest and prosecution of the Cuban Five goes to the heart of their unjust convictions.
In 1998, five Cuban men were arrested by the U.S. government and tried in Miami on charges of conspiring to commit espionage on the United States.
The five men’s mission was to stop terrorism, keeping watch on Miami’s ultra-right extremists to prevent their violent attacks against Cuba. “The Cuban Five,” as they are now known, were convicted after repeated denials by the judge to move the trial venue out of Miami. The U.S. government insisted that they be tried in Miami.
What the Cuban Five and their attorneys did not know during trial was that the U.S. government—through its official propaganda agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors—was covertly paying prominent Miami journalists who, at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution, filled the Miami media with false and hostile reports about Cuba and the Cuban five.
The materials uncovered through this work evidence the U.S. government's payments to journalists in Miami whose reports constituted a sustained effort to create an atmosphere of hysteria and bias against Cuba and the Cuban Five and which would have affected the jury pool as well as the sitting jury. This evidence has become a central issue in habeas corpus appeals arguing that their constitutional rights to due process were grossly undermined by the government's covert media operation in Miami.
Thousands of people have joined calls for review of the case of the Cuban Five, including Ramsey Clark, Dolores Huerta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, eight Noble Prize winners, and a host of prominent artists like Susan Sarandon, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, Alice Walker and Danny Glover.
We hope to see you on.