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Cuban Spy Gives Up American Citizenship

posted 10 May 2013, 11:20 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 10 May 2013, 11:21 ]

Cuban agent Rene Gonzalez calls on the United States to hold talks with Cubaafter he gives up his U.S. citizenship on his return to Havana.

 HAVANACUBA (MAY 10, 2013) (REUTERS) - A Cuban agent who served 13 years behind bars in the United States for his role in an espionage ring showed off a certificate renouncing his U.S. citizenship on Friday (May 10) and said he was now just a "Cuban patriot."

For Rene Gonzalez, who was born in Chicago but grew up in Cuba and held dual U.S.-Cuba citizenship, agreed to renounce his American citizenship at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana this week in exchange for not having to serve the remainder of a three-year parole in Florida tacked on to the end of his prison term.

"This is the document of certification of loss of nationality of the United States, which was given to me yesterday at 2 o'clock at the U.S. Interest Section in Havana," he said.

Gonzalez was one of five men convicted in a controversial 2001 trial of conspiring to spy on Cuban exile groups and U.S. military activities in Florida as part of an espionage ring called the "Wasp Network."

The certificate meant that he was the first of what the Cuban government calls the "Five Heroes" to complete his sentence and return to the island in a case that has plagued U.S.-Cuban relations since the 1990s.

Gonzalez called on the United States and Cuba to come together for talks to resolve long-standing differences since the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro.

"As its said in baseball, the ball is in the American's court. I think that the two governments (Cuba and the U.S.) need to sit down and talk seriously about all the problems that divide them," he said.

The case of the five agents is little known outside the Cuban exile community in theUnited States, but it is a national cause in Cuba where pictures of the five, with the word "Volveran" -- they will return -- beneath, are posted everywhere.

Cuba has hinted at a possible swap of the so-called "Cuban Five" for American citizen Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence in Havana for illegally installing Internet service for Cuban Jewish groups, but the United States has rejected the idea.

Gonzalez told media his return to Havana was not a humanitarian gesture warranting a reciprocal response from Cuba.

"This is not a humanitarian gesture (losing U.S. citizen to remain in Cuba) and I think that waiting for a gesture from Cuba (to free Alan Gross) is demanding too much from Cuba."

The lanky, bearded former military pilot appealed for the release of the other four Cubans still imprisoned in the United States.

"We remain five (Cubans) from the very first day (of our capture), we were five, we were one and I will not feel liberated until my four brothers are back with their people, their families, the people who want them," he said.

Cuba says the agents were unjustly convicted and excessively punished because they were only collecting information on Cuban exile groups planning actions against the island 90 miles (145 km) from Key WestFlorida.

Gonzalez is reported to be reacquainting himself with his wife and two daughters and hopes to take part in reforms to modernise Cuba's Soviet-style launched byRaul Castro, who succeeded older brother Fidel Castro in 2008.