State: No Alan Gross for Cuban Five (Three) Exchange

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
From the U.S. State Department's Daily Press Briefing with Spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: [S]ince you, the Administration, has decided to do this (Sgt. Bergdahl-Taliban exchange), does it have any implications for other cases where Americans are held, specifically two of them, Alan Gross and Bob Levinson? There’s some discussion in the ether that it might be appropriate to trade the three remaining Cuban Five for Mr. Gross, given the fact that he was, while not a soldier serving in uniform, was working for – indirectly for the U.S. Government, as was Bob Levinson when he was – went missing on Kish Island.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you all know, but it’s worth repeating, Sergeant Bergdahl was a member of – is a member of the military who was detained during an armed conflict. That obviously is a unique circumstance in any case. Whether it’s Alan Gross or Kenneth Bae or others who are detained American citizens, we take every step possible to make the case and to take steps to ensure their return home to the United States.

QUESTION: Right. But this seems to be – especially in the Alan Gross case, the Cubans have made it perfectly clear – not just privately, but I mean, they’re screaming it from the rooftops – that if there can be a resolution to the three remaining of the Cuban Five, that then Alan Gross will be freed.

MS. PSAKI: I – again, every circumstance is different, Matt, and I’m not going to speak to every circumstance from the podium. But this is a case where he was a member – is a member of the military. He was detained during an armed combat – armed combat. These were a unique set of circumstances.

QUESTION: So working for another agency of the government makes a difference? You’re not prepared to trade people for someone who was not serving in uniform?

MS. PSAKI: Again, Matt, we take every circumstance and every case of an American citizen being detained overseas incredibly seriously, and we do everything we can to assure their return.

QUESTION: And then my last one then is: So that means that the Administration is still opposed to any deal with the Cubans for Alan Gross that involves the three remaining Cuban Five?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed in that case, no.