(CN) – A group trying to free five convicted Cuban spies sued the U.S. government, seeking information they say will show that U.S. journalists were paid to prejudice their coverage of the “Cuban Five,” inflaming the Miami citizenry and assuring the convictions.
The National Committee for Free the Cuban Five charges the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its Office of Cuba Broadcasting – which operate Radio Marti and TV Marti, which broadcast to Cuba – may have violated federal law against domestic propaganda.
The committee wants the Broadcasting Board to disclose government contracts with 16 journalists, particularly those dating from the spies’ arrest in 1998 until their 2001 convictions.
The time was “rife with incendiary and false reporting by reporters in Miami about the Cuban Five and the country of Cuba,” the committee claims. It say that many journalists covering the case were being paid by the “propaganda arm” of the U.S. government, for contributing to Radio Marti while also reporting for local media outlets.
The Broadcasting Board failed to provide the documents despite repeated requests, the committee says. It claims the board has been stonewalling and thwarting disclosure by charging exorbitant fees for research and duplication of the documents.
The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 of being unregistered foreign agents.
Three were also found guilty of conspiracy to obtain military secrets; one was convicted of murder conspiracy.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear their appeal, but three members of the group are expected to be resentenced in October.
The plaintiff is represented in District of Columbia Federal Court by Carl Messineo of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington.