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BLITZER'S BLOG: Cuba vs. U.S. over Alan Gross – what’s going on?
May 14th, 2012
04:03 PM ET

BLITZER'S BLOG: Cuba vs. U.S. over Alan Gross – what’s going on?

By CNN's Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) – I’ve been receiving some very positive reaction to our coverage in “The Situation Room” of the case of Alan Gross, the American being held in a Cuban prison.

Many viewers and readers thanked me for bringing this case to their attention and putting both sides of the story out there.

The San Francisco Chronicle went further. In an editorial titled “Free Alan Gross,” the newspaper called on the Cuban government to release Gross, who has already served 2 1/2 years of his 15-year prison sentence. A Cuban court found Gross guilty of “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of Cuba because he brought unauthorized cell phones and laptop computers to members of the island’s tiny Jewish community.

“On the plus side,” the editorial said, “the Castro regime deserves credit for allowing Gross to use his weekly phone call to contact CNN and make his case. On the down side, the news coverage serves to remind the world of the repressive policies of President Raul Castro.”

The editorial added: “Every country has a right to uphold its sovereignty. Havana certainly had a right to sanction Gross for misusing a tourist visa to transport laptops and other devices. Even still, Cuba’s use of Gross as a pawn – for the crime of trying to put Cubans onto the Internet – shows how truly vulnerable Castro’s hold on Cuba must be.”

In an interview with me, a high-ranking official of the Cuban Foreign Ministry said the ball was now in the United States’ court. Josefina Vidal, speaking to me from Havana, said the Cuban government is ready to discuss Gross’ case with the Obama administration.

The Cubans would clearly like to link Gross’ case to the case of five Cubans serving prison sentences in the United States for spying. U.S. officials say that kind of linkage is a nonstarter.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CNN, said flatly it’s long past time for the Cubans to release Gross.

Publicly, there may be a diplomatic stalemate between Havana and Washington right now, but I suspect there may also be some movement behind the scenes. We shall see soon enough.

Follow Wolf on Twitter: @WolfBlitzerCNN

RELATED VIDEO: Top Cuban official weighs in on detainment of U.S. citizen

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Filed under: Cuba • Situation Room • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. shelly schultz

    Mr. Blitzer, I have ( and so have so many, many of my friends) very disturbed about your obvious and very pro Republican stance recently. You seem to be infatuated with the Romney's.... You are not very subtle in case you are not aware. I thought CNN was middle of the road....Perhaps you would be more comfortable on Fox News. I would be more comfortable if you'd join their ranks and become who you want to be you be finally.

    Sorry to say, I am turned off your shows on CNN, except for the other fine journalists who are on that network.
    Sheldon Schultz

    August 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Dani G.

    There are always double standards, and there always will be for as long as there is a hiearchy among nations. Those on top will be able to demand what they like, rule as they like, and interpret laws as they like. Clearly, it is obvious who is on top and who is on bottom.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Jane Franklin

    Thank you, Wolf Blitzer, for your interest in this situation. If I were in Judith Gross's position, I would study the cases of the Cuban Five to find out exactly how they came to be arrested, tried in Miami, convicted, and sent to separate prisons around the United States. Having come to grips with the outrageous injustice of their imprisonment, I would then commit my life to a campaign for releasing the Cuban Five in exchange for my husband Alan Gross. Perhaps Judith Gross doesn't know that Gerardo Hernández's mother Carmen died in Cuba in 2009. By that time he had been imprisoned for eleven years. The U.S. Justice Department did not allow him to return to Cuba before she died or for the funeral. Having studied his case, Judith Gross would have read, for example, the June 4, 2008 opinion of Judge Phylllis A. Kravitch. She would be appalled by his sentence of two life terms plus 15 years, meaning that he is scheduled to die in prison. Cuba allows Judith Gross to visit her husband whenever she wants. The United States does not allow Gerardo's wife Adriana Pérez to visit him, even after more than 13 years of incarceration.

    May 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  4. humbertocapiro

    SAN DIEGO CHANNEL 10 : With American In Cuban Prison, Wife Hopes For Clemency- Alan Gross Convicted Of Trying To Subvert Cuban Gov't – From Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

    "The equipment is illegal in Cuba without government permission, but a source close to the case told CNN that "at trial, the defense presented a receipt from Cuban Customs to demonstrate the Cubans were both aware of and approved what Alan brought in.""

    TO FIND ORIGINAL ARTICLE, COPY AND PASTE TITLE TO BROWSER & SEARCH

    May 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  5. humbertocapiro

    SAN DIEGO CHANNEL 10 : With American In Cuban Prison, Wife Hopes For Clemency- Alan Gross Convicted Of Trying To Subvert Cuban Gov't – From Jill Dougherty,CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

    "The equipment is illegal in Cuba without government permission, but a source close to the case told CNN that "at trial, the defense presented a receipt from Cuban Customs to demonstrate the Cubans were both aware of and approved what Alan brought in.""

    http://www.10news.com/news/29066339/detail.html

    May 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  6. Jim Thomas

    I really hope evrytyhing works out for him.You cannot trust cuba though.Jim Thomas Phx.Az.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  7. James

    Wolf,

    It is critical that you talk to the republican leaders about JP Morgan and deregulations. It looks like the media is out of touch with the strong position of the republicans on deregulation. Their ideas on how to manage this situation is important. JP Morgan will survive but could Citibank have made it with this kind of loss?

    Help!

    JO

    May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  8. richardcheeseman

    CNN and the SF Chronicle still telling the same old worn out official lie, that Gross was just in Cuba helping with internet connectivity.

    He was setting up secret and encrypted networks controlled and funded from the United States, i.e. covert networking with local clients for a hostile regime which is openly attempting to subvert the Cuban government.

    Secret networking like that for a foreign power is just as illegal in the United States. It was one of the offences with which the Russian spy Anna Chapman was charged, although unlike the US with its illegal regime change campaign of imperialist interference and subversion in Cuba, Russia is not trying to overthrow the US government.

    For the sums of money the US regime was spending on the covert networking equipment and on paying Gross to smuggle it in (he took in $500 000) they could have bought every Jew in Cuba a free and legal internet connection. The internet connectivity story is utter bunk. It is US regime disinformation propaganda retailed to deceive the public by its dishonest and servile corporate media.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • john quebec

      Richard. your idea to give every Jew in Cuba an internet connection, great idea only Cuban citizens are forbidden to have internet connection,. and those fortunate few that have intranet, IE, Dr's are closely watch by Fidel's "segurida de estado". We should support, and demand that those basic rights be given to all Cubans.

      May 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  9. Ann

    Excellent article. Thank you for bringing it to light, Wolf. I hope Mr. Gross is released very soon.

    May 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  10. john quebec

    We should not minimize the importance of Alan Gross' ordeal, but lets not forget the prisoners been held in Cuba in sub human conditions> some have been imprisoned for the mere fact of yearning freedom, and the most basic human rights afforded to all the citizens of a democratic system. Tyrants have never had a real interest in humanity or the gifts of democracy.

    May 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Antonio gonzalez

    "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CNN, said flatly it’s
    long past time for the Cubans to release Gross".

    Because Gross is american and she sent him Like a new old Superman.

    It"s stupid

    May 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  12. truebob

    Hey, I'm all for someone taking the bull by the horns for what they believe in. And I equally believe that if you F with the bull, you get the horns. You think you are right and the government is wrong? Great, that is what this country was founded on. THIS country. THAT country was founded on a right wing, do what we say or rot in prison ideology. I don't see how a man can ignore the danger, disregard the consequences, then expect us to shift our foreign policy to bail him out. If he had tried to subvert the Cuban government from Miami all it would have cost him to be wrong would have been a few computers and some bad press. But no, he had to put his head in the lions mouth.C'est la vie.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  13. joesmith

    he needs AIPAC to promise fidel they'll build a luxury casino/hotel at the behest of the las vegas billionaire who stupidly wasted millions on newt's campaign..then old allan not only will be free, but running the hotel..

    May 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  14. DenverDan

    The sad thing is that if this guy was gay and wanted to marry Fidel Castro's son, then Obama would be focused on it like a laser.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  15. Ze Mane

    He is not american, he is jew. he is loyal to Israel not USA.
    I think they should hold him without charges, just like gitmo

    May 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  16. Your Panties

    The Cuban government should Free Alan Gross. He has been a political prisoner for way too long.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  17. Shrek

    Represive Cuba, really? How about take a look in the mirror. The USA has jailed more of its own citizens than anyone else in the world. The program of extraordinary rendition of taking people to third party countries to be tortured. The fact the US tortures on its own. The detention indefinitely on Gitmo without charges, or trials. The treatment of Jeffery Manning. Cuba is far from being prefect but this idea that the USA is the bastion of freedom is ridicules.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  18. Brian Smith

    And our 50 year embargo of Cuba probably isn't helping, for no good reason, either, eh?

    May 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  19. freedomdem

    hmmmmmm holding people without a trial..............should the usa lecture other countries about prisions..........COUGH GITMO COUGH

    May 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  20. Ray

    I am no fan of Fidel but the man went to a foreign country with the intent to violate it's laws and got what he deserved

    May 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  21. John

    Cubans interfering with US soverignty = spies to be locked away.
    Americans interfering with Cuban soverignty= humanitarian crisis.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  22. guest

    Oh, the irony: If this guy was Muslim and brought something to the USA that was to not permitted and against the US government, he would also be locked up in a prison in Cuba. Except, we wouldn't be trying to get him released, and he wouldn't be getting to talk to reporters.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  23. Frank Garrett

    I say we give up the Cuban 5 and end the embargo for civilian travel in exchange for Alan Gross, and the release of the 5,000 other political prisoners.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

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