The government of the United Kingdom denied visa to Cuban antiterrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez, invited to the International Commission of Inquiry about the case of the Five, to be run on March 7-8 in London.
According to a press release on Monday, March 3, some few hours before Rene Gonzalez should had taken his flight from Havana to London, the visa request to travel to the United Kingdom was denied to him.
According to the text, released by the International Committee for the Release of the Five, Gonzalez was the main witness of the event, to be held at the London Law Society.
According to the note, in his denial letter, the UK Immigration office and the Visa Office argued that the refusal is due to item 320 (2b) of the Immigration Law, stipulating that the entry to the country of a person who has been condemned to more than four years of prison is banned.
Although it may be granted in exceptional circumstances, the British government warns that Gonzalez’ participation to the International Commission is not considered a sufficient reason to justify his visa.
Rob Miller, director of the Campaign of Solidarity with Cuba here -one of the organizers of the Commission-, said they are “deeply disappointed and surprised by the decision to deny a visa to Rene Gonzalez.”
Miller recalled that the case of the Five is highly politicized, so such response “can only be interpreted as a political decision.”
“We have received legal advice and we will be appealing the decision, including an Urgent Judicial Review if necessary,” he stressed.
Thousands of people in the United Kingdom, including hundreds of legislators, have campaigned for the release and justice for the Five for more than 10 years and hope to welcome Rene, Miller said.
Rene Gonzalez was the first of the Five in returning to Cuba (2013) after completing his prison sentence at a U.S. jail in October 2011, spending the regime of supervised release and after a process that let to the resignation and loss his U.S. citizenship.
Gonzalez was detained on September 12, 1998 in Miami, along with Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, the latter was the second one in releasing from prison for compliance with judgement and on the Caribbean island since Feb. 28.