Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Carter to meet with prominent Cuban blogger

    Carter to meet with prominent Cuban
    From Shasta Darlington, CNN
    March 30, 2011 — Updated 0741 GMT (1541 HKT)

    Former President Jimmy Carter is on the third day of his visit to Cuba
    The trip is officially to strengthen bilateral ties
    Carter will meet with prominent blogger Yoani Sanchez on Wednesday
    He says he has spoken to officials about Alan , who was recently
    sentenced to 15 years in .

    , Cuba (CNN) — On the third day of his visit to Cuba, former U.S.
    President Jimmy Carter is expected to meet with prominent blogger Yoani

    Sanchez announced the meeting via Twitter on Tuesday morning: "They just
    called my house. I will meet with Jimmy Carter tomorrow morning. More

    Sanchez told CNN that a representative of the Carter Center called to
    invite her to a meeting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday but asked that she not
    reveal the location.

    "It¹s a good gesture," Sanchez said. "And a sign of respect for the
    plurality of voices, rather than resigning himself to the government's

    During his 2002 trip to Cuba, Carter also met with dissidents and
    criticized the country's lack of democracy in a speech carried live on
    local television.

    Carter's meeting with Sanchez is likely to ruffle feathers. She has been
    slammed in state media for alleged links to Washington and accused of
    trying to rally dissidents against the government via the .

    On Tuesday, Carter squashed speculation that he can secure the release
    of American contractor during his trip.

    "We have spoken to some officials about Mr. Gross. But I am not here to
    take him out of the country," he told journalists, when asked about the

    Expectations were high that Carter would try to negotiate the release of
    Gross, who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison. U.S. Secretary
    of State Hillary Clinton talked to Carter before his departure to
    encourage him to raise the issue.

    Cuba accuses Gross, a USAID subcontractor, of working a "subversive"
    project to illegally connect people to the internet with the goal of
    destabilizing the government.

    Washington maintains Gross was helping the island's small Jewish
    community communicate.

    On Monday afternoon, Carter met with Jewish leaders and the archbishop
    of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. He visited the Patronato Jewish center
    and Temple Beth Shalom.

    Analysts say that even if Carter doesn't fly home with Gross, he could
    pave the way for Gross to be released early on "humanitarian grounds."

    Gross's family has called for such a release, as his mother and his
    daughter are battling cancer.