The Miami Herald publishes article by Oscar Corral,1 revealing for the first time the names of 10 Miami reporters who have been receiving U.S. government monies to work for Radio and TV Martí. Three El Nuevo Herald reporters, Pablo Alfonso, Wilfredo Cancio Isla and Olga Connor, are fired. Corral receives death threats, goes into hiding for weeks with his family. After a boycott of The Miami Herald by Cuban right wing extremists, Alfonso and Cancio Isla are rehired.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five files its first Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), agency overseeing Radio and TV Martí, for the names of U.S. reporters working for Radio/TV Martí.
Of 33 names submitted, 17 return positive, including the original 10 listed in Corral’s article. Lists of their names, payments from 2001 to 2009, are revealed. The National Committee requests the contracts of employment for the reporters. The BBG refuses to release more documents until the National Committee pays a substantial sum for continued search and duplication of documents.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) files several appeals to the BBG for a fee waiver. It is denied June 3, 2009; the BBG says a “conservative” estimate of $31,192.80 will be needed from the National Committee for further processing of the FOIA request. The PCJF files a lawsuit on behalf of the National Committee in federal district court in Washington DC.
Habeas Corpus proceedings begin for Gerardo Hernández. In addition to his Ineffective Counsel claim, the new evidence of the U.S. government employment of Miami reporters and violation of Hernández’s Due Process rights are presented for the first time.
The PCJF files a FOIA on behalf of Liberation newspaper, requesting the contracts previously sought by the National Committee.
More than 2,200 pages of contracts between the Government and the Miami reporters are released to Liberation, providing valuable information as to the nature and scope of the employment.
The Habeas Corpus appeals are filed for Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Fernando González. The central argument of their appeals — and evidence — is the government paid journalists.
Attorney Martin Garbus submits significant legal briefs, memoranda and affidavits to the Miami federal court in the appeals for Gerardo Hernández.
The PCJF files a lawsuit on behalf of Liberation against the U.S. State Department for refusing to release documents it requested of payments to journalists, contracts and relevant materials for the dates 1998 2002.
The Court orders the State Department to expeditiously produce the documents in its possession for Liberation’s FOIA request.
Attorney Bill Norris representing Ramón Labañino files a “Supplemental Memorandum Addressing the Threat of Government Paid Journalists to the Integrity of the Jury Process,” based on Judge Joan Lenard’s February 2001 opinions and orders enforcing the Gag order during the Five’s trial.
As part of continuing research, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five files a new FOIA to the BBG, for the program recordings of Radio/TV Martí, from 1998 to 2002, and 1996 around the time of the BTTR plane shootUdown. The BBG designates the National Committee as a media entity; research and duplication fees are waived for future FOIA searches.