Official: Cuba is ready to negotiate status of Alan Gross

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Cuban system does not allow for a humanitarian release for jailed American Alan Gross, but authorities there are ready to negotiate his status, a senior Cuban official said.

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“It is not conceived in the Cuban system that persons in this situation can be allowed to travel abroad,” Josefina Vidal, the top official in the Cuban foreign ministry handling North America, said in an interview on CNN on May 10.

Gross, sentenced last year to 15 years on espionage charges related to his State- Department-backed project to hook Cuba’s Jews to the Internet, has asked to be allowed to visit his 90-year-old mother, who is dying of cancer.

Vidal said Cuba was open to negotiating Gross’ status, however.

“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,” she said.

She would not offer specifics, but prompted by interviewer Wolf Blitzer said the “Cuban Five,” five agents jailed or on probation in the United States for espionage charges, were a concern.

“Cuba has legitimate concerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the Cuban Five,” she said.

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