From today's Daily Press Briefing with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland:
QUESTION: Yesterday, a Cuban official gave an interview to CNN. Josefina Vidal is her name. She said that they’ve conveyed some kind of offer to the U.S. Government on the release of Alan Gross. Is there any possibility at all of negotiation on that front?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think if you go back to an interview that Secretary Clinton gave to CNN earlier in the week from New Delhi, she was very clear on this subject. There is no equivalence between these situations. On the one hand, you have convicted spies in the United States, and on the other hand, you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place. So we are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade. The continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross is deplorable, it is wrong, and it’s an affront to human decency. And the Cuban Government needs to do the right thing.
QUESTION: So – okay.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: So you are confirming that this offer was related to the Cuban Five, because she didn’t confirm it in the --
MS. NULAND: The Cuban Government has regularly tried to link these things, and we regularly reject the linkage.
QUESTION: Well – but I mean, why is it okay – I mean, and several officials have discussed that in those discussions with the Taliban on trading five Taliban prisoners, and Bowe Bergdahl was involved, possibly involved in the trade – why is it okay to talk about trading with the Taliban but not with the Cubans for a U.S. person that’s been in jail and is in poor health?
MS. NULAND: There’s no equivalency in these situations, and the Cuban Government knows that. This is a matter of a sitting government having locked up a human – an assistance worker on no basis whatsoever. And one ought to be able to work with an established government to deal with an American citizen in an appropriate manner, and we have so far failed to do that with this government.
QUESTION: All right. But you say that he did not break Cuban law?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to what – one way or the other.
QUESTION: Well, I mean --
MS. NULAND: I mean, our view is he did nothing wrong.
QUESTION: Well, then why is it – well --
MS. NULAND: He did nothing wrong, and we don’t – we think that his --
QUESTION: His activities – the Cubans say that his activities violated Cuban law. Now whether you agree or disagree with what the Cuban law says, that’s an entirely different story.
MS. NULAND: We --
QUESTION: However, he – what he was doing, they say, broke their law. Now --
MS. NULAND: Well, we categorically reject --
QUESTION: That – alas – so why is this – okay, but you categorically reject that he broke their law?
MS. NULAND: We categorically reject the charges against him, and the fact that he’s been locked up.
QUESTION: Okay. But you said this is an affront to human decency.
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Why? Because he’s sick? Because – why is it an affront to human decency?
MS. NULAND: Because they locked him up with no cause. They are refusing even basic humanitarian consideration for him. Let me just give you one comparison that we do consider of note in this case.
Even with the Cuban Five, all right, we had one of them, Rene Gonzalez, who had served 15 years for spying. He was on parole in the United States. He asked to be able to go back to Cuba to visit a sick relative. We granted him the ability to go back to Cuba. He did that and he came back. That was a humanitarian gesture; again, a completely different situation. But the Cuban Government can’t even grant that kind of humanity in a totally (inaudible) situation to begin with, so hence the language.
QUESTION: On that --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- yesterday, the Cuban officials said that he can’t travel to the United States to see his mother because he’s at the start of his sentence. What do you say to that?
MS. NULAND: Look, we just reject the whole business, any equivalency and any sort of position by the Cuban Government that this is anything but completely unjust.
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05/06 - 05/13
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- Today on "From Washington al Mundo"
- Carlos Garcia Was Right, Dominguez Is Wrong
- Paying Dividends to the Dictatorship
- More Than Caution Needed With Cuba
- Lady in White Charged With "Disobedience"
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