Cuba agent – Guantánamo prisoner swap a precedent
Posted on Monday, 06.02.14
Cuba agent: Guantánamo prisoner swap a precedent
BY ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
HAVANA — The exchange of five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo for an
American soldier held captive in Afghanistan could set a precedent for a
similar swap with Cuba, a Cuban intelligence agent who spent years
imprisoned in the United States said Monday.
Fernando Gonzalez, who returned to the island in February after serving
more than 15 years behind bars in the United States, said the deal to
secure the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has a clear parallel
to the cases of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross and three Cuban
agents still imprisoned in the United States.
“It is obvious that the only thing needed is the will on the part of the
U.S. government to bring about that swap or exchange,” Gonzalez said in
his first news conference back in Havana. “This latest development makes
Diplomats at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana had no immediate
comment. In the past, U.S. officials have said they consider the cases
of Gross and the agents are not comparable.
Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009 while working to set up
hard-to-detect Internet networks for the island’s tiny Jewish community
as part of a U.S. government development contract. He says his actions
posed no threat to the Cuban state. But Havana considers such programs
to be an affront to its sovereignty, and he was sentenced to 15 years.
Havana has said repeatedly it wants to sit down with Washington to
negotiate the fate of Gross and the three members of the so-called Cuban
Five who remain imprisoned in the United States. The agents were
arrested in 1998 and convicted on charges including espionage, although
Cuba argues that they were only keeping tabs on militant exile groups
blamed for terror attacks on the island.
“On this side there is nothing standing in the way” of an exchange,
Gonzalez said. “On this side we have transparently and with clarity
shown an intention for this situation to be resolved and for
humanitarian concerns to be taken into account on both sides.”
Gross, a 65-year-old Maryland native, suffers from various health
problems. His U.S. lawyer said in April that he is determined to go home
within the next year, either alive or dead.
Rene Gonzalez, who is not related to Fernando Gonzalez, was the first of
the Cuban agents to walk free and returned to Cuba in 2013. Antonio
Guerrero is the next one scheduled to be released, in 2017.
The cases of Gross and the Cuban Five have been a major sticking point
for Cold War foes Havana and Washington, which have not had formal
relations for more than five decades.
Bergdahl was released over the weekend after five years in Taliban
captivity, stirring debate in Washington over whether the exchange could
put other Americans at greater risk of being taken as bargaining chips.
Source: HAVANA: Cuba agent: Guantánamo prisoner swap a precedent – Cuba
- MiamiHerald.com –