Second of ‘Cuban Five’ expected to be released

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A second Cuban spy of five whose release from prison is seen as critical to the freedom of Alan Gross will likely soon be in Cuba.

Fernando Gonzalez, one of the “Cuban Five” convicted of spying offenses in 2001, will be transferred to immigration lockup at the end of February to await deportation to Cuba, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday. Gonzalez was sentenced to 19 years, but appeals and good behavior reduced his sentence to 15 years.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

Cuban authorities have made clear that his release could come in an exchange for the Cuban Five, and Gross’ family has suggested that the U.S. government should use this leverage in obtaining his freedom.

One of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez, was released and is living in Cuba.

The other three are serving longer sentences, the Herald said. One is in for life because of his involvement in the Cuban Air Force’s fatal downing of two planes belonging to a Cuban activist group. Four Americans were killed in the attack.

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