Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It appears Cuba may be proposing a prisoner swap that involves Maryland native Alan Gross. He’s been held for two and a half years with all attempts to free him by the U.S. State Department rejected. But that may be changing.
Mary Bubala has the story.
WJZ has been following Alan Gross’ story for more than two years– that’s how long he’s been jailed in Cuba. And now there’s word that Cuban leaders are ready to come to the table and talk about his possible release.
Alan Gross, from Potomac, was charged with committing acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of Cuba. He was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for smuggling illegal communications equipment into the country.
Now, a Cuban official speaking to CNN from Havana says the country may be willing to release him.
“We have conveyed to the U.S. side that we are ready to sit down to talk and have a negotiation on this matter,” Josefina Vidal, a Cuban foreign ministry official, said.
Cuba wants the negotiation to revolve around the release of the so-called Cuban 5– five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in the U.S.
In a rare personal interview with WJZ, Alan Gross’ wife told us there’s precedent for a humanitarian release.
“One of the Cuban 5 who was released was allowed by the United States to go visit his dying brother, and we were hoping that the Cubans would do a reciprocal kind of thing by allowing Alan to see his mother who is 90 and dying of lung cancer,” Judy Gross said.
Evelyn Gross made an emotional plea to Cuban President Raul Castro last year for the release of her son.
“I get up in the morning, the first thing on my mind is Alan. Last thing when I go to bed, it’s Alan,” she said.
Alan Gross’ request to be released to see his dying mother had been repeatedly denied.
WJZ spoke with a State Department official who said they could not say if the U.S. is negotiating with Cuba for Alan Gross’ release.