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U.S. Hopes Cuba Will Release Jailed Jewish American Alan Gross

A senior U.S. diplomat said Washington hopes an American government contractor imprisoned in Cuba will be released, even as the Maryland native was making a final appeal Friday to have his 15-year prison sentence be reduced or dismissed.

Alan Gross has been held since his arrest in December 2009, accused of bringing satellite and other communication equipment into the country illegally. He has acknowledged he was working on a USAID-funded democracy program, but says he meant no harm to the government and was only trying to help the island’s small Jewish community.

Cuba considers the $20 million-a-year programs a threat to its sovereignty and has used the case to expose what it sees as Washington’s long history of meddling in its internal affairs.

Julissa Reynoso, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told The Associated Press the United States was following the case closely.

“We hope that Alan Gross is released,” she said.

Oral arguments in Friday’s hearing were expected to be handled by Gross’ Cuban attorney Nuris Pinero. It was not immediately clear if Gross himself would be present. A decision in the case is expected in coming weeks.

While U.S. officials have said they do not anticipate Gross’ conviction being overturned outright, there is hope that the end of the legal process might clear the way for his release on humanitarian grounds. Gross has lost 100 pounds in jail, and several of his family members are suffering from serious illnesses.

Cuban officials have said privately they are sympathetic to humanitarian appeals, but would not consider them until Cuba’s Supreme Court weighs in.


4 Responses

  1. “US hopes Cuba will release jailed Jewish American?” Oh yeah? What about “Jewish Americans hope the US will release the jailed Pollard and Rubashkin”?

  2. #2, Alan Gross didn’t commit a crime. The State Department is obviously more concerned about an American jailed in Cuba for a humanitarian mission than two Americans jailed in America for espionage and fraud.

  3. Shticky – you cannot compare the imprisonment of Gross with that of Pollard and Rubashkin. While you obviously don’t agree with the length of Rubashkin’s sentence both he and Pollard were charged with legitimate crimes. Most of us would love to see Pollard released as he has served a very long time. Mr. Gross is in jail without a trial and he deserves to be released by Cuba.

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