(JTA) — Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter said that jailed American Jewish contractor Alan Gross should be released in conjunction with the United States release of the so-called Cuban Five.
In an interview on CNN to be aired Monday, Mariela Castro told host Christiane Amanpour: "Alan Gross has been granted everything that he’s asked for: He has been able to see his wife, he has been able to have matrimonial, conjugal visits, and he has been treated with respect and dignity the way we always treat prisoners in Cuba. We haven’t received the same treatment, on the other hand, for our five prisoners who have very long sentences that are not right. I think that the six must be released — both the five Cubans and Alan Gross."
The Cuban Five are a group of intelligence officers being held in the United States for espionage crimes.
Gross was arrested in 2009 and sentenced last year to 15 years on charges related to his distribution of communications equipment to the island’s small Jewish community, working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.
He has appealed for two weeks of humanitarian leave to visit his 90-year-old mother, who has inoperable lung cancer. A U.S. judge recently allowed Rene Gonzalez, a Cuban on parole in the United States after serving time for espionage, to return to Cuba for two weeks to visit his dying brother.
Gross’ daughter also has undergone cancer treatment since his arrest.
Castro told Amanpour that the release of both the Cuban Five and Gross would be the "happiest solution."
A number of analysts have said that the Cuban government is detaining Gross in order to trade him for the Cuban Five.