Cuban Spy Released By US Urges Talks with Havana
The United States and Cuba should hold serious talks on their various disputes, including the release of an American imprisoned on the island, a Cuban spy released from a US prison said Thursday, according to the AFP news agency.
Rene Gonzalez, 56, was one of the "Cuban Five" found guilty of espionage in 2001 and given long prison terms. He served 13 years but was allowed to return to Cuba in April and to remain there upon giving up his US citizenship.
Cuban authorities are "waiting to sit down and talk about a whole range of issues that are dividing both countries, and that's the intelligent thing to do," said Gonzalez.
It is "not (just) Alan Gross and the Five," Gonzalez told reporters at the National Press Club via teleconference from an undisclosed location in Havana, in his first public statement since 2001.
Gross, 64, was arrested in December 2009 for distributing laptops and communications equipment to Cuba's small Jewish community under a State Department contract. He was sentenced to 15 years prison.
Cuba has tried to link Gross's fate to that of the remaining spies, while Washington has demanded his unconditional release.
Washington has had no diplomatic relations with Cuba since the early 1960s, when it severed ties with the communist-ruled island at the height of the Cold War, but the two countries have been in contact over the Gross case since 2010.
Gonzalez said Cuba has been generous in the past with Americans and Cuban exiles who came to the island intent on undermining the communist regime.
"The US government has to stop demanding from Cuba what they wouldn't do for Cuba at all," he said, adding that he did not know the details of the Gross case, AFP reported.
Cuba has admitted that the "Cuban Five" were intelligence agents but says they were gathering information on "terrorist" plots by Cuban expatriates in Florida and not spying on the US government.
Gonzalez's press conference was part of a series of events supported by Cuba aimed at kick-starting the long stalled talks with the United States.