From The White House: On Alan Gross

Thursday, November 6, 2014
From The White House's Press Briefing with Press Secretary, Josh Earnest:

Q. Recently, there have been editorials in The New York Times about cooperation with Cuba. Is the President, in the last two years, more open to starting a dialogue with Cuba -- perhaps a prisoner exchange involving the prisoners here in the United States and Alan Gross in Cuba?

MR. EARNEST: Well, as a general matter, Jim, let me just say that the United States believes that Mr. Gross should be released immediately; that his detention is certainly not appropriate, it’s not justified, and it’s time for him to be reunited with his family here at home. He is, after all, a development worker, and it’s time for him to come home.

We have also indicated that his continued detention is an obstacle in the relationship between the United States and Cuba and certainly would interfere with any effort along the lines of what you’re talking about.

So the President has been pretty clear that it’s -- as he said in the past, that it’s worth reconsidering our policy as it relates to Cuba, reflecting, however, the significant concerns the United States retains about their human rights record, their failure to observe basic human rights, as it relates to not just the illegitimate detention of Mr. Gross, but as it relates to the basic rights to free speech and political expression of the people of Cuba. And we continue to have concerns about that.

But again, I think the bottom line here is that Cuba’s failure to release Mr. Gross is hurting the relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Q. And is the United States open to any negotiations with Cuba about Mr. Gross and whether or not the three Miami -- the three people in Miami who are being held -- in Florida, I should say, not Miami -- who are Cuban -- is there any negotiations there? Are they open to any negotiations?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jim, I don’t have any negotiations to talk about from here other than to say that both publicly and privately the United States has been clear that Mr. Gross should be released.