Cuba offers US prisoner exchange

2014-06-03 07:59
Cuban intelligence agent Fernando Gonzalez, known as one of the "Cuban Five," speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba. (File, AP)

Cuban intelligence agent Fernando Gonzalez, known as one of the "Cuban Five," speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba. (File, AP)

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Havana - A Cuban agent formerly imprisoned in the United States voiced hope on Monday that three compatriots still jailed in the US could be freed in a swap, after Washington over the weekend exchanged Taliban detainees for a soldier captured in Afghanistan.

"There is little reason from the point of view of the United States not to have something similar," Fernando Gonzalez, one of the so-called Cuban Five, said in Havana.

Gonzalez, who served 15 years in a US prison before his release in February, repeated the Cuban government's long-standing offer to exchange the three men still held in US prisons in that case for Alan Gross, a US contractor who is in prison in Cuba.

The offer was renewed after the US on Saturday announced the exchange of five Taliban prisoners held at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Afghan insurgents in 2009.

Gonzalez was arrested with four other Cuban agents in 1998 in Florida and convicted of spying. The Cuban Five are held up as heroes by Cubans, who insist that the agents were in the US to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba by militant Cuban exiles.

Three members of the spy ring are still serving jail sentences in the United States. Gross, aged 64, was a contractor with the US Agency for International Development when he was arrested in 2009 in Cuba.

He was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2011 for distributing sophisticated telecommunications equipment in Cuba after being charged with "crimes against the integrity" of the Cuban state.

The government of Cuban President Raul Castro has offered several times to exchange Gross for the remaining three Cuban Five inmates, but Washington has refused to link the cases.

Gonzalez called the Taliban exchange "evidence that the only thing that is lacking is [US President Barack] Obama's political will to solve this situation."

- SAPA
Read more on:    raul castro  |  barack obama  |  cuba  |  us
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