September 7th, 2011

Breaking News: Bill Richardson on mission to Cuba

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reports that Bill Richardson is on mission to Cuba to negotiate the release of American contractor Alan Gross.  A transcript from the report is after the jump.

Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

Transcript of Wolf Blitzer’s Report on CNN

WOLF BLITZER, HOST:  We’ll get to all of that in just a moment.

But we’re just learning here at CNN that the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, was scheduled to land just a little while ago in Havana, Cuba on a very important mission to try to win the release of an American, Alan Gross, 62 years old.

He’s been a U.S. government subcontractor.

He was arrested in Cuba in December of 2009, accused of subversive activity.  He’s been held there ever since.

We’re getting a statement now from the State Department, from the State Department spokeswoman, courtesy of our own Elise Labott, our State Department producer.  The State Department saying:  “We are aware of Governor Richardson’s trip to Cuba and have been in contact with him.
While Governor Richardson is traveling as a private citizen,” the statement says, we certainly support his efforts to obtain Alan Gross’

We’re also told that the Cuban government invited Governor Richardson to come with this specific mission in mind.  We’re told that he’s expected to spent the next few days in Havana, working to find a way to release Alan Gross.

The U.S. administration, the Obama administration has been trying very strongly over these past two-and-a-half years or so to improve U.S.-Cuban relations.  But right now, the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has made it clear there will be no improvement at all in U.S.-Cuban relations until Alan Gross has been freed.

He’s sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba.

So we’re staying on top of this story.

We’ll get reaction from the Cuban government.

Much more coming up.

In the meantime, the headline — Bill Richardson, who’s done this on many occasions before, having gone to many countries to try to free Americans, he is — was scheduled to land just a little while ago in Cuba, with the mission of trying to free Alan Gross.

We’ll stay on top of this story for our viewers.