Wed, Dec 24, 2014 - Page 7 News List

US aided imprisoned Cuban spy and his wife with pregnancy

Reuters, HAVANA

The US helped a Cuban spy imprisoned in California artificially inseminate his wife in Cuba, a goodwill gesture while Washington and Havana were engaged in secret talks on restoring diplomatic ties, US officials said on Monday.

Gerardo Hernandez and his wife, Adriana Perez, are expecting their baby in two weeks, even though he was locked up for 16 years without conjugal visits.

The baby is a girl to be called Gema, Cuban official media said.

Hernandez was serving a double-life sentence at the US federal penitentiary in Victorville until his release on Wednesday last week as part of a prisoner swap, which was completed the same day the US and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years.

The US freed Hernandez and two other Cuban agents in exchange for US foreign aid worker Alan Gross, a Cuban who had been spying for Washington and 53 unidentified prisoners.

“We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs Hernandez’s request to have a baby with her husband. The request was passed along by [US] Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Leahy, a Democrat, had long been active in attempting to free Gross, who was arrested in 2009 for bringing banned telecommunications technology into Cuba for the US Agency for International Development.

Hernandez, 49, was one of five Cuban agents captured 16 years ago and given long prison terms, all of them hailed as “antiterrorist heroes” in Cuba for infiltrating Cuban exile groups at a time when anti-Castro extremists were bombing Cuban hotels.

When the so-called Cuban Five were honored in a ceremony at Cuba’s National Assembly on Saturday last week, Perez appeared alongside Hernandez with an obvious baby bump, raising questions about how she became pregnant.

Hernandez patted her belly and smiled, a signal of harmony within the marriage.

Later that day, Hernandez told a Cuban television show that she became pregnant through “remote control,” but did not elaborate.

CNN first reported on Sunday that it was done by artificial insemination.

The New York Times on Monday reported that Cuban officials collected the sperm sample and transported it through Panama.

Perez, 44, became pregnant on the second such attempt, the Times said.

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