Cuban spy gets life term reduced to 30 years
Issue has long been a key dispute between communist Cuba and the US. -AFP
MIAMI - A judge Tuesday reduced from a life term to a 30-year sentence the punishment for a high-profile member of a Cuban spy ring that has long been a key dispute between communist Cuba and the United States.
After an appeals court ruled that sentences against two of the five men were excessive, Ramon Labanino, who is also known as Luis Medina, struck a deal agreeing to a 30-year term, which was accepted by federal judge Joan Lenard.
Labanino, 46, is one of the Cuban Five, who have become a cause celebre in their homeland, daily lauded by the government for what it calls their heroism in purportedly helping derail attacks against the communist isle.
The United States says the five passed US military and other information illegally to Havana.
Another member of the group, Fernando Gonzalez, was expected to have his 19- year sentence reduced Tuesday.
The five men - Gonzalez, Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez - were arrested in 1998 and convicted three years later.
In October, judge Lenard reduced Guerrero's sentence from life to 22 years in prison, but noted he had committed "very serious offenses against the US."
Cuba, which has acknowledged the men were agents but claims they were working to stop terrorist attacks on Cuban soil, regards the men as political prisoners and has lobbied intensely for their release.
Cuban President Raul Castro has said he would be willing to swap jailed political dissidents for the five, but the US government has rejected the idea.
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