Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    House letter presses Cuba on Alan Gross

    House letter presses Cuba on Alan
    March 23, 2010

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — Forty members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter warning Cuba that improved relations are contingent on the release of a jailed Jewish American.

    , 60, has been held since Dec. 3; he was while reportedly assisting the Cuban Jewish community to connect to the . His congressman, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), initiated the letter.

    “It is our understanding that at the time of his arrest, Mr. Gross was in Cuba to help the Jewish community improve their ability to communicate with Jews, both in Cuba and overseas,” said the letter sent Tuesday. “He was working pursuant to a U.S. government contract. Mr. Gross’s work in Cuba emanated from his desire to make a positive impact for others of his faith on the island.”

    The Cuban government has banned such U.S. Agency for International Development projects.

    “The arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Gross is viewed with great consternation by the government of the , including both Democrat and Republican Members of the Congress, whether liberal or conservative,” the letter said. “It has caused many to doubt your government’s expressed desire to improve relations with the . We cannot assist in that regard while Mr. Gross is detained in a Cuban . We urge you in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross and allow him to return to his family in the .”