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Cuba Proposes U.S. Release Cuban 5 In Exchange For Alan Gross

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- The world's most influential leaders appeal to the Cuban government to release Alan Gross, and there are new developments from Havana. Gross could be allowed to come home to his family in Maryland and see his dying mother. But there's a catch.

Meghan McCorkell has a new message from Cuban leaders.

WJZ has been following this story for more than two years. Now, a Cuban leader says the country is willing to come to the table.

For two and a half years, international aide worker Alan Gross has been sitting in a Cuban prison cell.

The Maryland native is accused of being a spy and sentenced to 15 years behind bars for smuggling illegal communications equipment into Cuba.

Now, a Cuban official speaking to CNN from Havana indicates the country may be willing to release him.

Josefina Vidal, a Cuban foreign ministry official, told CNN: "We have conveyed to the U.S. side that we are ready to sit down and talk, and to have a negotiation on this matter."

Gross maintains he came to Cuba as an aide worker to bring technology to the Cuban Jewish community.

Cuba insists he was working for the U.S. government.

Now, Gross' freedom could come at a cost. Cuba wants the United States to release the Cuban 5-- five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in 2001.

"Cuba has legitimate concerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the Cuban five," Vidal said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for Gross to be freed unconditionally.

Gross' family members are fighting for a humanitarian release.

In a rare personal interview with WJZ, his wife Judy Gross says she's worried that might never happen.

"I'm really getting more hopeless all the time. I really don't know anymore. It seems like we've crossed every bridge, have done so many things, and we keep coming up against a brick wall," she said.

Now, there's new hope that this latest development could be the break they've been waiting for.

WJZ spoke with a State Department official who could not say if the United States is negotiating with Cuba for Alan Gross' release.

Alan Gross is pushing for a temporary release to visit his terminally ill mother. That request has been repeatedly denied.

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