Groups file US data request on four 'terrorists' arrested in Cuba

News from Cuba | Thursday, 29 May 2014

Two U.S. groups critical of the government's counter-terrorism policies have asked the Obama administration to release information about four Miami exiles arrested last month in Cuba and accused of planning armed attacks against the island.

The groups filed joint Freedom of Information Act requests this week asking the FBI, CIA and State Department for any information they have on the four men, as well as records relating to several other Cuban Americans in Miami linked to armed attacks against Cuba.

"Instead of allowing U.S. soil to be used as a staging post for terrorism, the U.S. government needs to state across the board that it is not selective in its repudiation of terrorism," Brian Becker, director of the anti-war ANSWER Coalition, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday to announce the requests.

"Cuba has asked the U.S. government for cooperation and the public has a right to know the truth," added Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, which is seeking the release of a group of unregistered Cuban government agents convicted of spying in the United States.

Cuba announced the arrest of the four exiles earlier this month, saying they were suspected of planning attacks on military installations.

Labeling the suspects "terrorists," it said they were linked to Luis Posada Carriles, 86, a Cuban exile and former CIA operative living in Miami who for many years has sought to overthrow former President Fidel Castro.

The arrests threaten to worsen already poor relations between Washington and Havana while serving as a reminder of a long history of plots against Cuba by the exile community, although there have been few incidents in recent years.

Cuba has recently intensified its criticism of the United States for what it considers efforts to destabilize the country. It has also railed against the State Department for once again naming Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in an annual report on April 30.

The State Department has declined to discuss the case of the four men, citing privacy laws.

Cuba has also said nothing about the four since announcing their arrest when it said they had admitted to planning the attacks.

Almost nothing is known about the four suspects, identified as Jose Ortega Amador, Obdulio Rodriguez Gonzalez, Raibel Pacheco Santos and Felix Monzon Alvarez.

Cuba said they were working for three other Miami exiles: Santiago Alvarez, Osvaldo Mitat and Manuel Alzugaray, all of whom have denied any connection to the four arrested men.

Alvarez and Mitat have been active in the militant, anti-Castro exile movement. Both pleaded guilty in 2006 to criminal conspiracy in a plea deal to avoid more serious charges of possessing machine guns, a grenade launcher and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in Havana; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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