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 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.