HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — A Cuban intelligence agent on probation after imprisonment in the United States arrived yesterday for a two-week visit to see his ailing brother in Cuba, where authorities consider him and four other agents national heroes.
Rene Gonzalez, one of the "Cuban Five" spies arrested in 1998, flew to the island around noon for a "private family visit", according to an official note read on the news. It repeated his previous vows to return to the US to serve out the rest of his probation.
"Our people welcome our beloved Rene to the country and will not cease in the struggle for his definitive return, along with his four dear brothers," a state newscaster said, reading from the official statement.
Cuba appeared set on playing down Gonzalez's return, with no footage of an airport greeting or mass welcoming ceremony like the ones that greeted young raft survivor Elian Gonzalez — no relation — upon his return from Florida in 2000. Word of his arrival did not come until he was already here, and was the last item on the midday news.
The Cuban Five were convicted of spying on Cuban exiles in South Florida and trying to infiltrate military installations and political campaigns.
Rene Gonzalez was freed in October but was ordered to remain in the US for three years under terms of his supervised release, a ruling that angered Cuban authorities.
On March 19, US District Judge Joan Lenard granted Gonzalez, a dual US-Cuban citizen, permission to travel to see his brother, who is gravely ill with cancer.