Wife of Alan Gross invokes Taliban-POW trade following prison visit

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The wife of Alan Gross visited her husband in a Cuban prison, then likened his plight to an American prisoner of war traded for five Taliban members.

“If we can trade five members of the Taliban to bring home one American soldier, surely we can figure out a path forward to bring home one American citizen from a Cuban prison,” Judy Gross said Wednesday in Havana, where she visited her husband in their first meeting since Alan Gross’ mother died last week.

She was referring to the late May swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl that has generated controversy.

The Gross family has suggested that the Obama administration could trade Gross for the three of the remaining “Cuban Five” spies who are in prison, a deal that the Cuban government has hinted it would accept. Obama administration officials have said such a trade is unlikely. Two of the five Cubans were released before their sentences were completed and allowed to return to Cuba.

Gross, 65, of Maryland, who has been imprisoned since December 2009, is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba for “crimes against the state.” Working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Gross was on a mission to connect Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet when he was arrested.

A statement released by the family spokeswoman, Lisa Black, noted that the Cuban government would not allow Gross humanitarian leave to attend his mother’s funeral on Friday.

U.S. authorities had allowed one of the Cuban Five to attend a family funeral in Cuba while he was on parole in Florida.

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