# News US spies arrested abroad vs. spies arrested in the US

#### Count Iblis

US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

We had the Roxana Saberi in Iran. She was freed because even the Iranians recognized that she did not have a fair trial. She was allowed to go home. Now, in the US we have the case of the Cuban five:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Five

On 27 May 2005, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a report by its Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stating its opinions on the facts and circumstances of the case and calling upon the US government to remedy the situation.[17] Among the report's criticisms of the trial and sentences, section 29 states:

"29. The Working Group notes that it arises from the facts and circumstances in which the trial took place and from the nature of the charges and the harsh sentences handed down to the accused that the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required in order to conform to the standards of a fair trial as defined in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a party."

Amnesty International has criticized the US treatment of the Cuban Five as human rights violations, as the wives of René Gonzáles and Gerardo Hernández have not been allowed visas to visit their imprisoned husbands.

The latest news is that an appeal on a very procedural ground has been denied:

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE55E3VD20090615

So, it looks to me that the US is treating these people like Iran or North Korea was/is treating the US "spies", except that in the latter case, you at least have a reasonable chance of getting released. In the US case, the fact that the original trial happened "according to the rules", an appeal (in the sense of a re-examination of the facts of the case) is impossible.

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org

#### kyleb

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

Clicking though through the Wiki link I came across this UN document:
Letter dated 29 October 2001 from the Permanent Representativeof Cuba to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

I have the honour to transmit herewith a summary prepared by the National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba concerning the principal terrorist actions against Cuba during the period 1990-2000 (see annex). I should be grateful if you would arrange for this letter and its annex to be circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under the item “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”, and of the Security Council.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Permanent Representative

http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a56521.pdf" [Broken]
Considering the serious nature of the changes, I am very curious to know what our government has done since then to address them. Not that I would attempt to absolve spies, but these people having been tried in the heart of the same Cuban expatriate community they were convicted of spying on seems rather absurd.

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#### LowlyPion

Homework Helper
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

She was freed because even the Iranians recognized that she did not have a fair trial.
Given the events unfolding in Iran, I'm thinking that an appeal to fairness had no weight at all. I would look to more pragmatic reasons for granting her appeal and release.

#### mgb_phys

Homework Helper
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

A bunch of UK plane-spotters went to Greece to photograph military aircraft, on a military airbase, noting down all the serial numbers, types etc and were arrested as spies.
Usual outcry about foreigners treating Englishmen, demand to send gunboats, invade Greece. Charges eventually dropped because of diplomatic pressure. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1697862.stm

Greek tourist takes a photograph on the London Underground, and is arrested, because a women complained her kid was in one of the pictures - won't someone think of the children.
http://www.legalbanter.co.uk/uk-legal-legal-issues-uk/54810-photographer-held-london.html

#### russ_watters

Mentor
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

So, it looks to me that the US is treating these people like Iran or North Korea was/is treating the US "spies", except that in the latter case, you at least have a reasonable chance of getting released. In the US case, the fact that the original trial happened "according to the rules", an appeal (in the sense of a re-examination of the facts of the case) is impossible.
Those are some pretty steep charges you are levying against the US, there, without any justification that I can see.

In the case of the reporter arrested in Iran, it is expedient to say that she was released because she didn't have a fair trial - you'd never expect the Iranians to acknowledge that the entire incident was a farce. We have no basis for any belief that she was actually a spy: it appears this is just another case of a belligerent government harassing reporters.

The Cuban Five on the other hand, were, Cuban spies. There isn't any reasonable debate to be had about that. Whether they could have beaten prosecution for their crimes if they were tried in a different venue is an interesting question, but it is hard to argue that justice wasn't served in convicting them. They should consider themselves lucky that they weren't executed.

In addition, the differences in fairness themselves, between the two cases, are as wide as an ocean. Whether the trial of the Cuban five was unfair due to the venue (a pretty weak violation, imo), the entire trial of Saberi was a sham, happening too fast and leaving her unable to defend herself. It has all the hallmarks of a manufactured stunt by the Iranian government.

You are drawing up a parallel that couldn't be further from a reality.

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Mentor

#### mgb_phys

Homework Helper
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

Being a long-time photographer, she should know better than to take pictures of other people's kids without permission.
He was taking pictures of the tube station, I don't think he intended to photograph the kid.
It has become a bit of a mass-hysteria in Britain - parents aren't allowed to take cameras to school soccer games, but the schools must all have CCTV - all to protect the children.

#### math_04

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

Yea, I would have to agree with russ watters. The Cuban Five were lucky to to be caught in America where they got to put their case forward in an impartial court. The case against them was pretty solid and included charges of attempting to infiltrate US Southern Command headquarters.

Roxana Saberi's trial was a pure sham; it was filled with hardline clerics who managed to elicit a confession from her before the trial even started through threats and torture.

#### math_04

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

It is understandable that a mother would become suspicious of what she perceives as a lone man taking pictures of her kid. With all the cases of children being kidnapped and pedophiles around, what can you expect? It is unfortunate but part of human nature I guess.

#### Count Iblis

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

If you read the information about this case, it is clear that there was a terror organization operating from Florida that the US did not act against. Then the Cuban Agents did infiltrate in there which is technically "spying". There was not a shred of evidence that these agents were involved in any harmful activities, yet they were convicted of very serious charges like first degree murder and "infiltrating US Southern Command headquarters", which was simply ridiculous.

Saberi also violated Iranian law about the way she handled certain documents. But at least the Iranians (perhaps under pressure from the US) were flexible and decided that whatever she did was not a big deal.

Unfortunately, the US is unable to make the same determination and will stick to the fact that the convictions were procedurally correct (despite being utterly ridiculous).

#### russ_watters

Mentor
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

He was taking pictures of the tube station, I don't think he intended to photograph the kid.
It has become a bit of a mass-hysteria in Britain - parents aren't allowed to take cameras to school soccer games, but the schools must all have CCTV - all to protect the children.
I don't know that it's a mass hysteria issue here, but I was walking in Philadelphia once last year and a Japanese tourist went to take a picture of a day care's multi-stroller (like 6 babies in a train) and the woman pushing it stopped her.

For a soccer game, if your own kids are in it, I can't see how there can be anything wrong with it.

#### russ_watters

Mentor
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

If you read the information about this case, it is clear that there was a terror organization operating from Florida that the US did not act against. Then the Cuban Agents did infiltrate in there which is technically "spying". There was not a shred of evidence that these agents were involved in any harmful activities, yet they were convicted of very serious charges like first degree murder and "infiltrating US Southern Command headquarters", which was simply ridiculous.
I don't know how far I'm supposed to go to prove your claims, but the wiki you linked and the US state department (?) website on the Cuban Five read nothing at all like what you describe:
http://www.america.gov/st/pubs-english/2008/June/20070712120209atlahtnevel0.7962915.html

At face value, the charges and evidence look pretty straightforward to me.

Do you have any credible sources that could substantiate your claims about the lack of evidence? I think you'll need to get specific about the evidence that there was being faked, because clearly there was a lot of evidence. This was your basic, classic, spy-novel type espionage.

Heck, it even says they didn't deny what they were, so heavy the evidence against them was: they only tried to deflect the charges by saying they were acting to fight terrorism against Cuba - a claim, that even if true, by the way, is still espionage.
Saberi also violated Iranian law about the way she handled certain documents.
Agreed, but that's not espionage.
But at least the Iranians (perhaps under pressure from the US) were flexible and decided that whatever she did was not a big deal.
Flexible? No, it was more likely all part of some preorchestrated stunt. At best, they picked up on a real crime and then salivated on the opportunity to ramrod an American through a sham trial to poke a finger in our eye. Nothing about that case looks legitimate.

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#### math_04

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

Certain documents? Out of the question, there is no way that a foreign journalist could handle sensitive documents having only been in the country for a short time. More likely she was trying to defy her handler by presenting a balanced view of the country.

And I guess you group all the Cuban exile groups as terror organisations do you? How convenient! Not a shred of evidence, a confident statement indeed. The intelligence agents were wiretapped by the FBI, their case was presented in court and in public. I don't know about you but I think all those tapes being held by the FBI, documents and letters etc are all evidence.

#### kyleb

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

And I guess you group all the Cuban exile groups as terror organisations do you?
He only said "http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/01/14/cuba/" [Broken]".
Not a shred of evidence, a confident statement indeed. The intelligence agents were wiretapped by the FBI, their case was presented in court and in public. I don't know about you but I think all those tapes being held by the FBI, documents and letters etc are all evidence.
He didn't dispute the fact that the were spying, but said "not a shred of evidence that these agents were involved in any harmful activities", which at least I am not in a position to contest. While I know the court found them guilty of first degree murder, considering their trial heart of the same Cuban expatriate community they were convicted of spying on, I can't reasonably argue that justice was served in doing so.

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#### math_04

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

I am commenting on the fact that just because a group is exiled, it does not necessarily mean they are a terrorist organization. If the Cuban government think they are, show the evidence and pursue it through the United Nations, Interpol etc without sending intelligence agents to another country.

Well, most of the jury were cautiously selected and again, as long as the evidence is presented in detail and the case is pursued fairly which it was, I see no reason to blame a million different factors that could have favored one side or the other.

#### russ_watters

Mentor
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

He didn't dispute the fact that the were spying, but said "not a shred of evidence that these agents were involved in any harmful activities", which at least I am not in a position to contest. While I know the court found them guilty of first degree murder, considering their trial heart of the same Cuban expatriate community they were convicted of spying on, I can't reasonably argue that justice was served in doing so.
I guess, then, he'd have to define what he means by "harmful activities", since it seems to me that everything they were convicted of is a harmful activity, otherwise the activities wouldn't be illegal. But you're right - CI didn't object to the idea that they were spying. So I guess that means he doesn't consider spying to be inherrently harmful? That's not a hair I think needs splitting. Spying is a crime, punishable by death. Period. If there is no objection to the charge of spying, then there is nothing to argue about.

In any case, to the specific charge of murder - according to the link I provided, it wasn't murder, but conspiracy to commit murder. And the evidence there is also pretty straightforward: intercepted communications about the attack.

Regardless, none of this bears any resemblance to the case of Roxana Saberi.

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#### russ_watters

Mentor
Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

He only said "http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/01/14/cuba/" [Broken]".
If we were to assume, for the sake of argument that everything said about Alpha 66 in that link is true and further assume for the sake of argument that the Cuban 5 did nothing else besides act against Alpha 66, it would still be espionage! Their chosen defense was the propaganda technique misdirection and they lost because misdirection is not a valid (though admittedly sometimes it works) legal defense for their crimes.

So this is just an irrelevant diversion, along the same lines as their failed trial defense.

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#### Count Iblis

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

I think the double life sentence for one as opposed to the much milder sentences of the others were due to the murder charge and the military base infiltration charge. Both of which are problematic. If you take a hard line view that spying activities can justifiably lead to the death penalty, then surely one also has to take a milder view about the shooting down of the planes by Cuba.

Even if one argues that what Cuba did was wrong because it happened in international waters, the fact that intelligence about the flights to Cuba were given in itself would not make one complicit in any "murder" by any reasonable standard.

In this respect the case is similar to the Saberi case. You take some event that strictly speaking is illegal or it is a somewhat more serious charge that reasonably can lead to, say, ten years prison sentence. But then you blame the people for other events for which they were not responsible at all by any reasonable standard of "responsibility".

That verdict is then only motivated because you have an enemy that you view as a "big Satan". Any action that has helped that "great Satan" in any way, makes you liable for other bad things that this "great Satan" has done.

I can give another example of "Iranian style justice" in Florida in a case having to do with Cuba, see here:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-22427001_ITM

In her case, Martinez asked for compensation for damages she suffered from having unwittingly married the alleged spy, who subsequently returned to Cuba. She also claimed that because Roque was acting as an agent of Cuba during their marriage, their sexual relations constituted rape, for which the Cuban government was responsible.

#### kyleb

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

No....that's not the same hair at all.
What "hair" were you refering to other than that of harm?

Those guys weren't spies, they were reporters! That made proving espionage much more difficult. In fact, that makes it a lot closer to the Saberi case than the Cuban Five case. With the obvious difference, of course, that the US justice system recognized the weakness of the case and the prosecuters dropped it, whereas in the Saberia case, they ramrodded it through and only after the mishandling was pointed out did they release her.
Not to go off topic, but for the record; those guys weren't reporters, they were lobbyist passing classified information to a foreign government, and the prosecution dropped the case because "Government policy makers indicated they were clearly uncomfortable with senior officials’ testifying in open court over policy deliberations", as mentioned in the article I linked above.

#### math_04

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

How do you figure one could rightly expect an unbiased jury at the heart of the same Cuban American community which hosts groups accused of terrorism against Cuba?
How did you come to the conclusion that the jury is unbiased? Have you talked to them? Have you checked their records? Just because there is a significant Cuban American community does not mean a court of law cannot operate properly.

In this respect the case is similar to the Saberi case. You take some event that strictly speaking is illegal or it is a somewhat more serious charge that reasonably can lead to, say, ten years prison sentence. But then you blame the people for other events for which they were not responsible at all by any reasonable standard of "responsibility".
There was no 'case' against Saberi, there was not even a trial. They tortured a confession out of her and then put her in a court which sentenced her pretty quickly without any real evidence. She never had any sensitive documents and she was arrested purely for attempting to defy authorities in Tehran.

I don't understand any of the logic the people against the sentencing put forward. The evidence presented was probably thorough as the wiretaps and documents were in large numbers. The FBI had been monitoring them for a while. How do you know they were harmless? Do you have access to those wiretap files? Were you there in court when the evidence was presented? Do you think the jury would just put them in jail for annoying some Cuban exiles?

#### kyleb

Re: US "spies" arrested abroad vs. "spies" arrested in the US

How did you come to the conclusion that the jury is unbiased? Have you talked to them? Have you checked their records? Just because there is a significant Cuban American community does not mean a court of law cannot operate properly.
I don't claim to know if the jury was biased or not, but I have explained why I suspect it likely was. Am I to take it you have no interest in addressing the facts I presented?

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