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Kinnamon, meeting with Cuban Christians,
asks for justice for the 'Cuban Five'

Havana, Cuba, June 24, 2009 – The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, joined in solidarity with Latin American Christians meeting here last week, and called for justice for the "Cuban Five" who have been languishing in a Miami jail since 1998.

Kinnamon also called upon the U.S. Government to grant visas to the wives of two of the prisoners so they can visit their husbands in the U.S.

He expressed disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review the case. "This is a case in which individuals and families have been caught in the quagmire of politics between the United States and Cuba," Kinnamon said. "The Cuban five have appealed their convictions on the grounds that their trials were unfair and the churches of the United States support due process to resolve their situation."

Kinnamon said the NCC and other religious leaders in the U.S. are seeking a meeting with President Obama to discuss U.S. relations with Cuba in general and the Cuban Five in particular.

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labaņino, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez.

The five were Cuban intelligence officers convicted of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities in the U.S. They were allegedly attempting to infiltrate U.S.-based Cuban exile groups who were organizing illegal and occasionally violent activities in Cuba. The Cuban government claims their presence in the U.S. was a measure to counter terrorist activities against Cuba.

From the day of their arrests in 1998, the five spent 17 months of solitary confinement in Miami, and the Cuban government claims evidence belonging to the defendants, including family pictures, correspondence and recipes, was branded as "secret" by the U.S. government and not presented to their defense attorneys. These and other legal aberrations have attracted international attention and have raised questions about the fairness of their trial.

Kinnamon was in Cuba to attend the 80th anniversary of the Spanish-American Evangelical Congress in Havana. The meeting at the Evangelical Seminar of Theology in central Matanzas province, was attended by over 60 religious leaders from 14 nations.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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