A UK visa has been refused to one of the group of men known as the Miami Five, who was due to address a conference in London about his case.
Gonzalez was one of a group of five men involved who claimed that they were in Florida to attempt to infiltrate groups that were believed to be carrying out terrorist attacks in Cuba. However, the US arrested and imprisoned them in 2001, with campaigns continuing to clarify the real story. Rene Gonzalez served 13 years for his role in the alleged crimes.
Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to refuse the UK visa to Rene Gonzalez. He added: “The British government has the opportunity to show discretion on visa applications in circumstances like this but has chosen not to do so with regards to Rene Gonzalez's application.
“In the context of the already highly politicised case of the Miami Five, such a decision can only be interpreted as a political one. We have taken legal advice and will be appealing this decision including seeking an urgent judicial review if necessary.”
Other campaigners have suggested that it would be in the public interest to allow Gonzalez to attend the conference about his case in London to help uncover the circumstances surrounding the Miami Five's imprisonment.
A spokesman for the British Home Office defended their position, stating that anyone who has been sentenced to at least four years imprisonment on a criminal offence can be issued a mandatory visa refusal. He added: “Mr Gonzalez's application was refused on this basis.”
The UK visa was reportedly refused just hours before Gonzalez was due to fly.