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Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, for his work in a semi-covert U.S. program promoting political change on the island. Cuba has said it considered the work to be subversive.
Gross said he was in Cuba to set up communications equipment to give Internet access to Jewish groups. A judge said that this activity was a crime against the Cuban state.
Cuba has said it proposed talks with the United States about resolving the Gross case but has received no response. Washington disputes this, saying it has a standing offer to discuss the matter.
Cuban officials have hinted that they would be prepared to swap Gross for five Cuban government agents, who received lengthy U.S. sentences in a 2001 trial in Miami.
Cuba feels the agents, known as ‘the Cuban Five,’ were unjustly convicted and have made their freedom a national cause, referring to them as the “Five Heroes.”
Washington has insisted that such a deal is out of the question, though U.S. officials said last year they had suggested a swap of Gross for one agent, Rene Gonzalez, who is out on parole in Florida, but Cuba turned it down.
The State Department expressed impatience last week with Cuba, saying it would not “negotiate” for the release of Gross.
“The Cuban government’s assertion that it is waiting for a response from the United States on a standing offer to negotiate the release of U.S. aid worker Alan Gross is not true,” the State Department said in a statement.
“We have repeatedly made clear to the Cuban government that we reject the notion of exchanging members of the so-called Cuban Five for an American citizen who the Cuban government has imprisoned simply for trying to bring Internet access to the Cuban people,” the statement said.