Advocates for Alan Gross say talk of a trade with the “Cuban Five” is a non-starter, but acknowledge hopes that the Obama administration will consider lower-level concessions for the five Cuban spies in exchange for Cuban considerations for the jailed American.
Insiders say that Gross’ advocates want the U.S. government to consider, among other measures, more family visits for the Cuban Five, agents who were arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 on espionage-related charges, and the permanent return home for the one among them who is now out of jail and serving probation.
The Cuban government recently came closer than ever to making explicit that the fate of the Cuban Five factors into its considerations of whether to release Gross, the State Department contractor who is in jail on a conviction stemming from his efforts to connect Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet.
Gross, who is Jewish, was arrested in 2009 and sentenced last year to 15 years in prison.
“We have made clear to the U.S. government that we are ready to have a negotiation in order to try and find a solution, a humanitarian solution to Mr. Gross’ case on a reciprocal basis,” Josefina Vidal, the top official in the Cuban Foreign Ministry handling North America, said in a May 10 interview on CNN.