The Miami Herald has published the text of a letter from the U.S. Departments of State and Justice to Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) regarding rumours the Cuban government might be willing to exchange an American contractor it is holding in exchange for members of the Cuban Five. The letter:
Dear Congressman Díaz-Balart:
Thank you for your letter of Sept. 1, which expressed your concern about reports alleging that the Cuban government is offering to free USAID subcontractor Alan Gross in exchange for convicted Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez.
While we are committed to using every possible diplomatic channel to press for Mr. Gross’ release, we have not and will not consider a “prisoner swap” with any of the five Cuban spies who participated in the Wasp network.
We agree that Alan Gross’ efforts to provide global Internet access to the Jewish community in Cuba and other marginalized groups do not compare and are not in any way linked with the grave crimes of which the so-called Cuban Five have been convicted.
Thank you for sharing your concerns and providing us the opportunity to clarify our position on this matter. We hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Richard Verma, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
Ronald Weich Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice
The Cuban government alleges that Gross, who has been held since last December but has not been charged, entered the country illegally to distribute satellite communications equipment to “mercenary” dissidents.