A man who was serving a life sentence in Colorado over charges of conspiring to spy for the Cuban government will be resentenced following a recent federal appeals court decision.
On June 5 a three-judge panel vacated the life sentence of Antonio Guerrero, a U.S. citizen who was arrested in 1998 by federal authorities and accused of working as a spy for Cuba via a small clandestine group called La Red Avispa.
Five imprisoned members of the group who pleaded innocent to espionage charges by the government, including Guerrero, have come to be known as the "Cuban 5." Their plight has generated international attention.
The court found that Guerrero’s sentence was improperly given because he had not attempted to gather or transmit top secret information while he was reporting to the Cuban government. A federal judge in Miami will decide the new sentence.
Guerrero, born in Florida and raised in Cuba, was convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage by a Miami jury and sentenced to the maximum punishment of life imprisonment in 2001. A 49-year-old father of two, he started serving his life sentence in 2001 and is currently incarcerated in a federal high security penitentiary in Florence, Colo.
In the early 1990s Guerrero was recruited by the Cuban government to join La Red Avispa, an informant network that was meant to monitor the activities of Cuban exiles in Florida who were plotting violence, according to the group’s members.
The U.S. attorney’s office disagrees with the network’s defined purpose. It has also claimed that Guerrero used his former job as a sheet-metal worker at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West to monitor airplane traffic at the facility that may signify an impending attack on Cuba, a fact that Guerrero’s defense attorneys stated was irrelevant, because such information was not classified and because any member of the public could have monitored the aircraft in the same way.
Although Guerrero is no longer expected to be serving life in prison, the decision comes after a August 2006 court decision that upheld the convictions of the “Cuban 5,” despite appeals by defense attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild who said that a federal trial for the five defendants should have been held outside of Miami, a city where opposition to the Cuban government is strong.