After 5 years in a Cuban prison, American Alan Gross is now free.
President Barack Obama's administration had secured Gross's release as part of a sweeping deal to thaw the decades-old diplomatic freeze with Cuba.
Gross was an American government contractor when he was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison, charged with spying.
In exchange for Gross, the U.S. returned 3 Cuban spies imprisoned since 2001. The deal also included the return of a U.S. intelligence agent imprisoned in Cuba for nearly 20 years. Cuba also agreed to release 53 Cubans identified as political prisoners.
This deal to free Gross was negotiated in secret over the past 18 months.Â But was it a good or bad deal?
CNN's Erin Burnett has more.
Washington (CNN) - U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by theCuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of alandmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.
President Barack Obama spoke with Cuban President Raul Castro Tuesday in a phone call that lasted about an hour and reflected the first communication at the presidential level with Cuba since the Cuban revolution, according to White House officials. Obama announced Gross' release and the new diplomatic stance at noon in Washington. At around the same time, Cuban president Raul Castro was set to speak in Havana.
President Obama announced a major loosening of travel and economic restrictions on the country. And the two nations are set to re-open embassies, with preliminary discussions on that next step in normalizing diplomatic relations beginning in the coming weeks, a senior administration official tells CNN.