Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    US says release of contractor in Cuba ‘long overdue’

    US says release of contractor in Cuba ‘long overdue’

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – The State Department on Friday urged Cuba to release a US contractor as it marked the first anniversary of his detention on suspicion of espionage.

    Alan was detained December 3, 2009 on the communist-run island reportedly while distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment in Cuba.

    “It is long overdue for Cuban authorities to release Mr Gross,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

    “He has languished in a Cuban jail for a full year and the Cuban Government has yet to explain reasons for his detention or file charges,” he added.

    “His arrest and continued detention without charge violate international standards of due process and judicial procedure.

    “Mr Gross is a husband, a father, and a dedicated professional with a long history of development assistance and support to communities in more than 50 countries.

    “We are deeply concerned about his welfare, as well as that of his family members who are eager for his return,” he said after State Department officials met with members of the family on Thursday.

    US officials say Gross worked for a non-government organization contracted by the State Department to supply computer and communications material to civil society groups in Cuba.

    They said that Gross, an international development worker, visited Cuba to help members of the Jewish community in link up with other Jewish communities throughout the world.

    The and Cuba have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1961, although Washington is represented by a US in Havana.

    Crowley added: “We have made it very clear to the Cuban government that the continued detention of is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two countries.”