Fidel Castro meets freed 'Cuban Five'

Havana, March 3: The former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has met with the five Cubans - the "Cuban Five" - who spent years in US prisons and returned home only recently, a media report said on Monday.

Castro wrote: "I met with them on Saturday, February 28, 73 days after they landed in Cuba," Xinhua reported, citing an article published in the Granma daily.


Castro, 88, said he waited until now to meet with the men - decorated last week with medals of honour and bravery for having sacrificed years of their lives for their country - to allow them to join their families and friends.

"I was happy for hours," the former leader said about the meeting.

"I listened to the marvellous tales of heroism from the group headed by Gerardo (Hernandez)."

In 2001, Hernandez, along with Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero, were convicted by a US court on charges of espionage and given long prison terms.

Rene and Fernando completed their 13- and 15-year terms respectively, and Hernandez, Labanino and Guerrero were freed as part of a goodwill prisoner exchange to mark the December 17, 2014 joint US-Cuba announcement of restoring ties.

In his article, Castro reiterated Cuba's official defence that the so-called "Cuban Five" never posed any harm to the US and the group was created only to prevent terrorist acts organised by the US intelligence agencies against them, that the world only knows too well.

The five were declared heroes of the Republic of Cuba at a ceremony, on February 24, presided over by Cuba's current leader Raul Castro.


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