The United States government sent a Cuban spy’s sperm back to his wife in Cuba as a goodwill gesture during negotiations with the island nation, it has been confirmed.
Adriana Perez, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, is expecting a baby in two weeks’ time, despite him having been locked up for sixteen years without private visits.
Mr Hernandez was imprisoned in the United States serving two consecutive life sentences before his release last week as part of a prisoner swap.
"We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs. Hernandez's request to have a baby with her husband. The request was passed along by Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for [US prisoner in Cuba] [Alan] Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba," a spokesperson for the US Justice Department said. Mr Hernandez’s release and the services granted to him were part of a more general rapprochement between the United States and Cuba.
He was released alongside two other Cuban agents in exchange for Alan Gross, a Cuban who had been spying for Washington, and 53 unidentified prisoners.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who facilitated the exchange, has long publicly advocated the release of Mr Goss.
In pictures: Timeline of US and Cuba relations
In pictures: Timeline of US and Cuba relations
1/19 Cuba timeline
July 1953: Fidel Castro begins a revolutionary campaign against the regime of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista
2/19 Cuba timeline
January 1959: Castro and Che Guevara enter Havana after a successful final offensive. Batista flees, and Castro becomes prime minister, ruling by decree
3/19 Cuba timeline
October 1960: Castro’s reforms sees hundreds of US businesses in Cuba nationalised and their owners not compensated. In December, US US breaks off diplomatic relations and imposes a trade embargo
4/19 Cuba timeline
April 1961: Cuban exiles launch the Bay of Pigs invasion with US backing
5/19 Cuba timeline
October 1962: A 13-day confrontation known as the Cuban missile crisis begins when Castro allows the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. Generally regarded as the closest the world has come to nuclear war
6/19 Cuba timeline
1962: US President John F Kennedy signs off a naval blockade
7/19 Cuba timeline
April 1980: A sharp downturn in the Cuban economy and Castro temporarily lifting restrictions sees around 125,000 people, many of them released convicts, flee to the US
8/19 Cuba timeline
February 1996: Cuba shoots down two US aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles, prompting the US to make its trade embargo permanent
9/19 Cuba timeline
June 2001: The case of the “Cuban Five” begins, as five spies in Miami are convicted of providing intelligence to the Havana government
10/19 Cuba timeline
Nov 2001: US sells $30m of food to the Cuban government to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle, which killed 22 people, the first food export between the countries for more than 40 years
11/19 Cuba timeline
Oct 2003: US President George W Bush announces fresh anti-communist measures, including tightening the travel embargo and creating a new government body, the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba
12/19 Cuba timeline
Aug 2006: President Bush seizes the opportunity of President Castro’s illness and a handover of powers to Raul Castro, urging Cubans to work towards democratic change
13/19 Cuba timeline
Feb 2008: Raul Castro officially takes over as president. Washington responds by saying its trade embargo will remain in force unless free and fair elections are held
14/19 Cuba timeline
Dec 2008: A poll by Florida International University suggests for the first time that a majority of Cuban-Americans living in Miami want an end to the embargo
15/19 Cuba timeline
April 2009: President Obama lifts restrictions on family travel to Cuba
16/19 Cuba timeline
Dec 2009: US aid worker Alan Gross is detained in Cuba on suspicion of spying for Washington
17/19 Cuba timeline
Nov 2010: American Ballet Theatre performs in Cuba for the first time in 50 years, the most high-profile in a series of cultural exchanges
18/19 Cuba timeline
Sep 2012: Cuba hints at its willingness to do a deal with Washington on the Gross case
19/19 Cuba timeline
December 2013: President Obama and Raul Castro shake hands at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Castro says in English: “Mr President, I am Castro.” It was hailed in Cuba as “the beginning of the end” for what were then described as “US aggressions”
Hernandez was celebrated as an “antiterrorist hero” in his home country for his work infiltrating American Cuban exile groups, at a time when anti-Castro groups were bombing hotels in Cuba.
Upon his return was honoured at a ceremony at the Cuban National Assembly, where he was pictured with his wife, who was obviously pregnant. This fact sparked speculation.
The New York Times reports that Ms Perez became pregnant on the second attempt of artificial insemination, and that the sperm sample was transported through Panama by Cuban officials.
US President Barack Obama this month vowed to chart “a new course on Cuba” and overturn half a century of economic sanctions that failed to topple the Cuban government but intensified its population’s poverty.