The Cuban government told Washington of its readiness to find a "reciprocal humanitarian" solution to the case of jailed U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, the island's foreign ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry posted on its Web site the text of a letter the Cuban Interests Section in Washington sent to the Washington Post in response to the newspaper's Dec. 31 editorial on the Gross case.
The now-62-year-old Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba's Jewish community.
Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion on the Communist-ruled island. In August, Cuba's highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross in March.
Gross was in Cuba as an employee of a Maryland firm contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
"Alan Gross was not tried and sentenced in Cuba for 'humanitarian work' associated with helping the Cuban Jewish community connect to the Internet," Juan Lamigueiro Leon, the deputy chief of mission at the Cuban Interests Section, told the Post in a missive the newspaper never published.
"The Cuban synagogues had access to the Internet long before the arrival of Gross in Cuba," the diplomat said. "Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws and was engaged in covert activities to destabilize Cuba."
"It is fair to point out that the Cuban Government has conveyed to the U.S. Government its willingness to find a humanitarian solution to the case of Mr. Alan Gross on reciprocal humanitarian bases," the letter to the Post said.
The missive went on to accuse the Post of misleading readers by referring to the five intelligence officers as "spies (...) infiltrating U.S. military installations in South Florida."
The Cuban Five, Lamigueiro said, "were monitoring the terrorist activity of extremist Cuban groups in New Jersey and Florida seeking to pre-empt their further terrorist actions and to gather evidence about them that could be used to arrest those terrorists operating on U.S. territory."
The Cuban agents amassed tapes and videos and other evidence that they shared with the FBI, the diplomat said.
"That evidence, though, was not used to arrest the terrorists, but instead was employed against the Five Cubans, in a legal process corrupted by political motivations," he said.
The Cuban Five - Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González - were arrested in 1998 and convicted three years later by a federal jury in Miami.
Though one of the group, René González, completed his custodial sentence last October and was released, he has not been permitted to go home, as the federal courts say he must serve his three-year probation on U.S. soil.
The White House, State Department and members of Congress have spoken out repeatedly to demand that Havana free Gross, whose ailing 89-year-old mother released a video in November appealing to Cuban President Raúl Castro for her son's release.
Last month, Castro pardoned more than 2,900 Cuban convicts and more than 80 foreign nationals held in Cuba's prisons, but Gross was not among those released.