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Cuba says U.S. blocking consular access for freed spy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Havana, Feb 27 (EFE).- Cuba's government on Wednesday blasted Washington for denying consular access to a Cuban agent who is serving probation on U.S. soil after completing a prison term for espionage.

The U.S. State Department has "repeatedly" denied requests from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington to meet with Rene Gonzalez, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Cuba energetically denounces this arbitrary decision by the authorities of the United States, which violates Rene's rights, at the same time that it holds the U.S. government responsible for the safety and physical integrity of the antiterrorist fighter," the statement said.

Gonzalez, who spent 13 years behind bars, walked out of a federal prison in October 2011 but must remain in the United States until his three-year probation is complete.

He and four colleagues - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez - were arrested in 1998 and convicted three years later by a federal jury in Miami.

The Cuban Five have always insisted they were spying on Miami's Cuban exile community, not the U.S. government. Cuba says the men were sent to Florida in the wake of several terror bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative.

Washington's veto on consular access for Rene Gonzalez is designed "to continue punishing him after so many years of unjust and cruel treatment" and it comes in addition to the "strict conditions" of his probation, the Cuban foreign ministry said.

Gonzalez, 56, whose wife and two daughters are in Cuba, traveled to Havana in March 2011 for two weeks after obtaining court permission to visit an ill brother.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130227/cuba-says-us-blocking-consular-access-freed-spy