Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    44 senators write Cuban president about Md. man

    44 senators write Cuban president about Md. man
    JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press
    Updated 8:25 a.m., Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Forty-four senators have written to Cuba's president
    to call for the release of a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba for almost
    three years.

    The one-page letter released Tuesday is signed by 34 Democrats, nine
    Republicans and independent Joseph Lieberman. It says that the detention
    of Alan Gross is a major obstacle to improving relations between Cuba
    and the United States.

    Among the letter's signatories are both of Maryland's senators,
    Democrats Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, as well as two former
    presidential candidates, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain,
    R-Ariz.

    "As we approach the three year anniversary of Alan's imprisonment, we
    call on you to take action and grant him the belated release his
    situation warrants," the letter says.

    It urges Cuban President Raul Castro to release Gross on humanitarian
    grounds.

    Gross was working as a U.S. government contractor when he was arrested
    on Dec. 3, 2009. The 63-year-old was sentenced to a 15-year prison term
    for crimes against the state after he brought restricted communications
    equipment to the communist island nation while on a democracy-building
    program.

    "Members of the Senate have traveled to your country, written to you and
    your dignitaries, and employed other creative means to encourage Mr.
    Gross's release. Yet these attempts thus far have been futile, and Mr.
    Gross's ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to
    any further actions to improve our bilateral relations," the letter says.

    The letter was dated Monday and addressed to the Cuban Interests Section
    in Washington, which Cuba maintains instead of an embassy. A spokesman
    for the Cuban Interests Section did not immediately respond to a request
    for comment Tuesday morning.

    "Until Alan is released and returns home, we will let the world know how
    Cuba is violating the rights of an individual American citizen," Cardin
    said in a statement released along with the letter.

    ___

    Follow Jessica Gresko at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/44-senators-write-Cuban-president-about-Md-man-3892479.php