The Miami Herald
Mon, Jul. 19, 2004
Cuban national ordered deported

A Cuban national detained at Krome on suspicion of having persecuted dissidents has been ordered deported. But his lawyer hopes to get him released instead.


An immigration judge has issued an order to deport Jorge de Cárdenas Agostini, a Cuban detained in Miami last month on suspicion of having supervised a team of torturers targeting dissidents in Cuba in the 1990s.

Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami, said: ``Mr. de Cárdenas will be removed from the United States at some point, based on the final order of removal issued by an immigration judge.''

But Linda Osberg-Braun, de Cárdenas Agostini's lawyer, said she was working to have her client released instead. She declined to discuss the removal order, which was issued last week, according to people familiar with the court proceedings.

An immigration judge, acting on an Osberg-Braun motion, has closed proceedings.

Osberg-Braun has denied that her client persecuted dissidents in Cuba or supervised a torturer team.

Friends of de Cárdenas Agostini have said he left Cuba because he was once associated with a Cuban officer, Gen. Antonio de la Guardia, who was executed in 1989 after a drug trial. Some viewed de la Guardia as opposed to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Cuban human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation in Havana, told El Nuevo Herald after the arrest that de Cárdenas Agostini played no role in persecuting dissidents: ``Our organization has no records of accusations against this person.''

People familiar with the case said de Cardenas Agostini views acceptance of the removal order as a deal that would lead to his release. They said the defense presented evidence backing de Cárdenas' contention that he did not persecute anyone.

While an immigration judge's deportation order can be appealed, people familiar with the case said de Cárdenas Agostini is not planning an appeal. Osberg-Braun declined to discuss the case.

De Cárdenas Agostini's uncle, Jorge de Cárdenas Loredo, a longtime lobbyist and political strategist in Miami, was released from immigration detention in the late 1990s.

De Cárdenas Loredo pleaded guilty in 1997 to one count of obstructing justice, and was sentenced to one year in federal prison. After his release, he was sent to Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade to face possible deportation, but was released in 1999 under supervision.

While Cubans ordered deported are generally released, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2001 says an undeportable foreign national could be held indefinitely if the immigration service demonstrates with ''clear and convincing evidence'' that the person is ''specially dangerous'' to the community.

Whether immigration will seek to classify de Cárdenas Agostini as a threat to the community or agree to supervised release remains to be seen.

De Cárdenas Agostini was detained June 8 at his Miami home. The case stemmed from his uncle's deportation proceedings, in which de Cárdenas Agostini testified about political conditions in Cuba in the hope of preventing his uncle's possible deportation.