Monday, August 20, 2012

Lawyer: U.S. ran illegal "propaganda machine"

Martin Garbus. Photo: The Telegraph
The U.S. government broke the law when it paid journalists to try to influence the trial of Cuban agents who were part of the Wasp spy network, defense lawyer Martin Garbus said today during a conference call.
The government spent "massive amounts of energy, money and time" to try to obtain the convictions of members of the Florida-based spy ring, Garbus said. He said:
The government has every right to have a propaganda machine directed overseas. It has no right to take that propaganda machine and turn it on Miami while that trial is going on.
He said the propaganda effort surrounding the paid journalists was unprecedented. He said he hoped the new information would help free Gerardo Hernandez, the convicted spy who led the ring.
Gloria La Riva
The lawyer's claims are included in a sworn statement that had been expected to be filed on Aug. 20, but was delayed.

Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, also took part in the conference call. She said:
We have uncovered millions of dollars in payments to these journalists and there's more to be uncovered.
She said the paid journalists included the late Luis Aguilar Leon, who worked at El Nuevo Herald. He wrote an editorial that was published on Feb. 27, 1996, three days after Cuban fighter jets downed two civilian aircraft belonging to Brothers to the Rescue, a Cuban exile organization. It said:
One wishes for the power to send three well-armed fighter jets to the Cuban coastline to see if these henchmen of the air can prove themselves as courageous when the adversary above them is armed. Or to fly over Varadero, shooting, to delight in the image of a stampeding bunch of lewd tourists, the kind who believe that in Cuba everything is for sale, jumping over fences and fleeing across the sand on which they trod.
During the conference call, I asked if there was evidence of collusion between prosecutors and such agencies as Radio Martí. Garbus said he had "no direct proof" of cooperation between the paid journalists and the prosecution team. That "would be a subject of discovery" in the legal proceedings.

Garbus said he believes it is possible that there was some communication between the prosecution and journalists, although it could have been indirect contact through intermediaries.

Garbus said there is no body of case law on such extensive government involvement in paying journalists and trying to sway a jury.

Bill Norris, a lawyer who defended the accused agents, told the conference call:
The defense team had absolutely no knowledge that this was happening at a consequence, we were not able to do anything that would have protected our clients from this, if there's anything that could be done.

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