Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    AP Interview: Cuba won’t unilaterally free Gross

    Posted on Sunday, 10.09.11

    AP Interview: Cuba won't unilaterally free
    By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
    Associated Press

    MEXICO CITY — The should not expect Cuba to make a
    unilateral humanitarian gesture to release an imprisoned American
    government contractor, a senior Cuban official said Sunday.

    Cuban Parliament President told The Associated Press in
    an interview that to expect such a gesture on behalf of
    "would not be reasonable."

    Gross was sentenced to 15 years in in March for crimes against
    the Cuban state. He was in December 2009 after getting caught
    illegally bringing communications equipment onto the island while on a
    USAID-funded democracy building program.

    Cuba's Supreme Court upheld Gross' sentence in August, and U.S. efforts
    turned to winning his release on humanitarian grounds. Both his elderly
    mother and adult daughter are battling cancer and his family has
    suffered financial hardship since his arrest, says his wife, Judy Gross.

    During a visit to Mexico, Alarcon said the U.S. government "should get a
    good armchair and sit down to wait" if it is hoping for a humanitarian
    release.

    "To expect a unilateral gesture wouldn't be reasonable," Alarcon said.

    He also had harsh words for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who
    visited Cuba in early September to negotiate Gross' release. Cuban
    officials rebuffed his efforts, and Richardson went home without seeing
    Gross.

    Alarcon said Richardson went to Cuba on a private trip and not as part
    of a U.S. mission. Richardson's trip "was like doing amateur diplomacy,
    and that doesn't exist, that's Bill's invention," Alarcon said.

    Richardson has said he was invited to the island by Cuban officials to
    negotiate Gross' release.

    Alarcon said Richardson suggested the U.S. and Cuba conduct a swap
    between Gross and Rene Gonzalez, one of five Cuban nationals convicted
    in 2001 as part of the "Wasp Network" that sought to spy on U.S.
    military installations in South Florida. Gonzalez has dual U.S.-Cuban
    citizenship.

    Gonzalez was released Friday after 13 years in prison but a judge has
    ordered him to serve three years probation in the U.S. before returning
    to Cuba.

    Cuban officials say the five attempted to prevent terrorist attacks on
    the island by monitoring Cuban exiles and tried to place operatives
    inside the campaigns of anti- politicians. They were convicted of
    espionage and of trying to infiltrate U.S. military bases.

    "Richardson has entangled everything because I can't believe someone
    would seriously think that there could be a negotiation between Rene
    Gonzalez … a man who was about to complete his sentence … and a man
    who is just about to start serving his," Alarcon said.

    He said Gonzalez's life is at risk if he remains in South Florida,
    especially after U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from
    Florida, said Gonzalez "has American blood on his hands."

    "Not only is his life at risk … but someone could be interested in
    provoking an incident with him to have the judge send him back to
    prison," Alarcon said.

    Alarcon said sending Gonzalez back to Cuba would be in the best
    interests of both the United States and Cuba, and he also urged the
    Obama administration free the four other members of the ring still in
    prison.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/09/2446093/ap-interview-cuba-wont-unilaterally.html#storylink=misearch