Sunday, October 4, 2009

No visa for would-be Cuban agent

Adriana Perez

U.S. officials earlier this year denied Adriana Perez a visa for the 10th time. She wants to visit her husband, Gerardo Hernandez, a convicted Cuban agent serving two life sentences plus 15 years.
The State Department has said officials have barred Perez from entering the country because she was a spy-in-training in Cuba when the FBI broke up a Cuban spy network in South Florida more than a decade ago.
Abelardo Moreno Fernandez, Cuba's representative in the United Nations, scoffed at that accusation in September and demanded that Washington give Perez a humanitarian visa so she can visit her husband in prison.
This is one of the issues U.S. and Cuban officials will have to sort out if the two countries are to improve relations. Cuba has made the case of the so-called Cuban Five a cornerstone of its political agenda.

Perez talks to reporters in Cuba

Moreno Fernandez said in a statement U.S. officials consider Perez "a threat to the stability and national security of the United States." The statement said:
This is shameful confirmation that the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is using the same argument as her predecessor Condoleezza Rice to deny Ms. Adriana Perez her visa.
U.S. officials have also refused to give a visa to Olga Salanueva, the wife of another convicted Cuban agent, because they say she was a member of the spy network while living in the U.S.

Olga Salanueva

A State Department fact sheet said:
Consistent with the right of the United States to protect itself from covert spies, the U.S. government has not granted visas to the wives of two prisoners. Evidence presented at their husbands’ trial revealed that one of these women was a member of the Wasp Network who was deported for engaging in activity related to espionage and is ineligible to return to the United States. The other was a candidate for training as a Directorate of Intelligence U.S.-based spy when U.S. authorities broke up the network.
I spoke to both women in Cuba in 2008. Perez told me:
Olga and I are being prevented from exercising that right because we are considered a danger to American security. This is something we call ridiculous – that we could possibly be aggressors against this government or have intentions to harm U.S. national security.
It would be impossible for us to try to do something against this country (the U.S.) when really our husbands were defending the rights of Americans. All we want is to visit them in jail.

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