White House Condemns Prosecution of American Alan Gross in Cuba
Hope for improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba suffered a setback
this week as the White House condemned the island nation's plan to
prosecute an American contractor, apparently suspected of being a spy by
Alan Gross, 61, was arrested in late 2009 in Cuba while working as a
contractor for the U.S. government. He was said to involved in the
distribution of satellite phones and computer equipment to Jewish people
so they could communicate with Jews in other countries. On Friday, Cuban
prosecutors said they would charge Gross with "acts against the
integrity and independence" of their country, and seek a 20-year sentence.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the decision "compounded
an injustice suffered by a man helping to increase the free flow of
information to, from, and among the Cuban people." Gross has been
"unjustly detained and deprived of his liberty and freedom for the last
14 months," President Obama's spokeman said. He should be released "so
he can come home to his wife and family," Gibbs insisted.
Gross' work in Cuba was part of a U.S. Agency for International
Development democracy-promotion program that grew under former President
George W. Bush. according to the Washington Post.
His lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, told the Post that Gross was "caught in the
middle of a long-standing dispute between Cuba and the United States."
His family lives in Potomac, Md.