Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, a United States spy sentenced to 25 years in prison in Cuba for espionage, would call his parents every day from deep within the Cuban penal system. Then, one day in mid-December, the calls stopped, and President Barack Obama announced that Sarraff was safely on American soil. Since his alleged release, however, his family and friends have not heard from him and are demanding to know whether he is, indeed, free.
The New York Times reports that Sarraff was one of two US agents freed in exchange for three Cuban spies known as part of the “Cuban five,” a spy network responsible for the deaths of at least four US citizens. Sarraff’s name was never publicly given by the government, though the Times has independently confirmed that he was the unnamed agent released alongside USAID worker Alan Gross. President Obama described Sarraff as “one of the most important intelligence agents the United States has ever had in Cuba,” though the specifics of his work are not known.
The Times notes that, unlike Gross, Sarraff “has yet to surface in public or to contact his parents, whom he had been calling daily from prison.” His sister, Vilma, confirmed to the paper that no one in his immediately family had heard from him since the day he is said to ahve been released. American officials told the Times, however, that “he’s not being held captive,” and the government has no indication of why he has apparently chosen not to contact his family.
The Times report follows up on a report from Reuters in the last week of December noting that the family had been attempting to find information about Sarraff and discovered no meaningful leads. Then, his parents, who live in Cuba, noted that he had visited him two days before the announcement of the deal between Washington and Havana and was simply told he was “no longer available.” His parents told Reuters they believed Sarraff was innocent, but now that he has gone missing they hope he can now “have a plan for his future.”
The Reuters report notes also that the Obama administration claimed that Havana had agreed to release 53 prisoners of conscience, but the names of these individuals were never given, and there is no indication of such a mass liberation in Cuba. On the contrary, an estimated dozen Cuban dissidents were arrested this week for expressing interest in an open mic performance project that the government canceled. Its organizer, artist Tania Bruguera, disappeared on the day the rally was to take place and surfaced today, having been detained due to her intent to perform.