Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Release Alan Gross


    Release Alan Gross
    Published: March 20, 2012

    When he was arrested in Havana in late 2009, Alan Gross, a subcontractor
    for the United States Agency for International Development, was helping
    Cuba's Jewish community get better access to the Internet. A Cuban court
    last year found him guilty of participating in a "subversive project of
    the U.S. government that aimed to destroy the revolution through the use
    of communications systems out of the control of authorities," and
    sentenced him to 15 years in prison. He has languished in a military
    hospital ever since. His lawyer says he has lost more than 100 pounds
    and suffers from severe arthritis. As an act of mercy, the Cuban
    government should release Mr. Gross.

    We hope that when Pope Benedict XVI visits the island next week, he will
    urge its president, Raúl Castro, to do so. The pope must press the Cuban
    leader to end the harassment of dissidents and tell him that the world
    has not forgotten the Cuban people's yearning for freedom.

    Only in a repressive country like Cuba would Mr. Gross's efforts be
    characterized as a threat to the state. Full access to information and
    communications is a human right. Mr. Gross did misrepresent himself when
    he entered the country on a tourist visa and did bring in communications
    equipment without a license. But a 15-year sentence for those violations
    is absurd and inhumane.

    Cuba has tried to use Mr. Gross as a chip to get the United States to
    release the "Cuban Five" — five men convicted in 2001 of spying on
    anti-Castro exiles. There is no comparison, but some compromise should
    be possible. One of the five, René González, is on parole, and a federal
    judge in Miami has now agreed he can return to Cuba for two weeks to
    visit a brother who has cancer. Cuban officials should immediately allow
    Mr. Gross to return to the United States to visit his mother, who has
    cancer. Once both men are home, an agreement to keep them home should be