Zachary Sanders said in an interview:
It's a big contradiction ... a Cold War anachronism. You wonder why they pursued this after all this time. Gosh, it's been over a decade already.Sanders, 38, said he traveled to Cuba without U.S. government permission three times roughly between July 1998 and March 2000. The Office of Foreign Assets Control, a branch of the Treasury Department, fined him $9,000 for failing to complete a questionnaire about his Cuba travels.
His lawyer, Shayana Kadidal, contends that such OFAC questionnaires are unconstitutional because they force travelers to incriminate themselves.
Kadidal said he believes that the Bush administration may have singled out Sanders because he was unrepentant about his Cuba travels and publicly disagreed with U.S. sanctions against Cuba. But he said it's difficult to understand federal authorities' motivation. He said:
That's really the big unanswered question - the fact that they pursued it all these years. It's a very unusual step.Sanders said after he traveled to Cuba, the FBI questioned him about his friendship with a Cuban diplomat who worked at the United Nations. He said:
I've wondered if that played into it.If he had to do it all over again, Sanders said he would have tried to go to Cuba legally, particularly given the attention he's gotten from the FBI and OFAC. But he said he isn't sorry that he visited Cuba. He said:
It was very important to me. I wouldn't take that back. I don't regret traveling there. I regret having this over my head lingering.