Spy mission was worth time spent in US prison: Cuban agents

Two Cuban spies who recently completed prison terms in the United States told state-run television that their mission monitoring anti-Castro groups there had been worth their lengthy incarceration.

"I don't view it as a sacrifice, I look at it as something that I simply had to do," Fernando Gonzalez, who was released in February after 15 years in US prison, said in a broadcast that aired late Saturday.

Gonzalez was one of the "Cuban Five" group of agents detained and prosecuted by US authorities for infiltrating Florida's Key West Naval Air Station and Cuban exile groups in Miami.

He is one of two agents to have been released since being arrested in 1998 and convicted of espionage in 2001. A second Cuban agent, Rene Gonzalez -- no relation to Fernando -- was freed in 2011.

"I took the risk, knowing there was a possibility of sacrifice" of freedom, Rene Gonzalez told Cuban television.

"I understood what I was doing, and I believe that it was worth it," he said.

"I believe -- more than ever, after getting to know the enemy -- that I understand what (the United States) is capable of doing to us if they come here and conquer Cuba," he said.

The three other Cuban Five group members remain incarcerated, amid calls from some quarters that Washington release them on humanitarian grounds.

Gerardo Hernandez is serving two life sentences because he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for passing information to the Cuban government that allegedly led to a 1996 attack on two aircraft belonging to an exile group, Brothers to the Rescue.

Fellow agents Ramon Labanino and Antonio Guerrero meanwhile are serving sentences of 30 years and almost 22 years, respectively.

Winning the agents' freedom has become a top issue for Cuba.

Havana acknowledges that the five men were agents, but says they were spying on "terrorist" exiles and hails them as national heroes.