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Cuban spy released from US prison

Posters with portraits of five Cubans jailed in the United States are dispayed in front of the Cuba's Consulate during a demonstration in support of Cuban revolution in Sao Pablo, Brazil, on April 7, 2010
Posters with portraits of five Cubans jailed in the United States are dispayed in front of the Cuba's Consulate during a demonstration in support of Cuban revolution in Sao Pablo, Brazil, on April 7, 2010

One of the so-called "Cuban Five" -- intelligence agents convicted in a US spy case that made them heroes in Havana -- was released from an Arizona prison Thursday and will be deported, officials said.

Fernando Gonzalez, the second member of the group to be released, walked out of a federal penitentiary in Safford, Arizona after serving more than 15 years of a 17 year and nine months sentence, prison spokesman Chris Burke told AFP.

He was immediately handed over to US immigration authorities pending his deportation to Cuba, a spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency Barbara Gonzalez said.

Citing "security reasons," she declined to say where he was being held or when he would be sent to Cuba.

Gonzales was arrested in September 1998 along with four other Cuban intelligence agents for infiltrating the Key West Naval Air Station and Cuban exile groups in Miami. He was found guilty and sentenced in 2001 for not registering as a foreign agent and for possessing false identity papers.

Cuba, which has acknowledged that the five were its agents but says they were spying on exiles, hails the five as national heroes and has made their release a top issue in its limited relations with Washington.

One of the five was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for passing information to the Cuban government that allegedly led to the 1996 shoot-down of two aircraft belonging to an exile group, Brothers to the Rescue.

The first of the five to be released was Rene Gonzalez, who left prison after completing his sentence in October 2011. He has since returned to Cuba.

The other three are serving life sentences.

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