Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Jailed U.S. contractor, sour U.S.-Cuba relations

    Jailed U.S. contractor, sour U.S.-Cuba relations
    Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:21am EDT

    (Reuters) – American Alan has been held in Cuba since December on suspicions of espionage, although he has not been officially charged with a crime. The U.S. government has said he was not a spy but was in Cuba setting up systems for Jewish groups under a federally funded contract promoting political change on the island.

    The following are facts about the case, which has stalled progress in U.S.-Cuba relations:

    * Gross, 61, was detained by Cuban authorities at the as he was preparing to fly home on December 3.

    * He is said to have been in Cuba installing satellite equipment to provide Internet access for Cuban Jewish groups.

    * He was working as a contractor for Maryland-based company DAI under a U.S. Agency for International Development program aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba.

    * U.S.-Cuba relations had warmed slightly under Barack Obama, but U.S. officials say there will be no major initiatives with its longtime ideological enemy as long as Gross is held.

    * Cuba views the USAID program as part of the ’ long-standing campaign to subvert the island’s communist-led government.

    * Cuban officials have said Gross was suspected of espionage and providing satellite communications equipment to dissidents, but the case is under investigation.

    * Cuba’s Law 88 says that anyone who “participates in the distribution of financial, material or other resources that come from the United States government … faces a sanction of three to eight years in .”

    * Gross is being held in a Havana military , but his wife, Judy Gross, visited him in Cuba in late July.

    * She has written a letter to President Raul , expressing remorse for her husband’s work and asking for his release due to their daughter’s illness.

    * New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson came to Cuba in late August to meet with Cuban officials about Gross, but left empty-handed.

    * A U.S. State Department spokesman said on September 2 there was no truth to reports the United States may swap five jailed Cuban agents for Gross.

    * Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela discussed the Gross case on September 24 on the sidelines of U.N. General Assembly in New York.

    * Judy Gross said the U.S. government had done little to help her husband.

    (Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Peter Cooney)