Senator Patrick Leahy and six other Congressmen arrived in Cuba this week to lobby for the freedom of Alan Gross, who has been jailed since 2009 on charges of illegally distributing communications equipment.
It is not known if they will be able to visit Gross before they leave today.
A State Department official said that freeing Gross from his 15-year jail sentence is a condition for improving chilly relations between the island nation and the United States. Gross was charged and jailed while on a program financed by the American government to promote democracy.
The United States has rejected Cuba’s demand to negotiate over the imprisonment of five Cuban intelligent agents in return for Gross’ freedom.
The visiting Congressmen are the first legislators to travel to Cuba since President Barack Obama was re-elected.
The other six legislators are Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Jim McGovern and Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen.
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