Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    US man jailed in Cuba seeks UN help

    US man jailed in Cuba seeks UN help
    September 11 2012 at 08:47pm
    By SAPA

    File picture - U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, 61, who worked for a
    Washington-area company contracted under a U.S. Agency for International
    Development program to promote democracy in Cuba, was arrested at the
    Havana airport on December 3, 2009 and has been held on suspicion of
    espionage and subversion. REUTERS/Family Photograph/Handout

    Washington - Lawyers for a US government contractor imprisoned in Cuba
    said Tuesday they have asked a UN working group on arbitrary detentions
    to press for their client's release.

    Alan Gross, 63, has been in prison since December 2009 for distributing
    laptops and communications equipment to Cuba's small Jewish community,
    under a US State Department contract.

    His wife Judy, who recently visited her husband, said in a statement she
    was "devastated by his appearance."

    "Alan's health continues to deteriorate. He has lost 105 pounds and
    developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder
    blade. While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to
    survive this terrible ordeal," she said.

    "I beg President (Raul) Castro, as a husband and father himself, to put
    an end to our anguish and let Alan come home to his loving family,
    including his dying mother," she said.

    The Cuban government has insisted that Gross's health is "normal," and
    that he is being held in a military hospital, not a prison.

    Gross was found guilty in March 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison
    for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity" of the
    communist-ruled island.

    His lawyers said they had asked the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
    Detention to take up his case and press for his release, citing
    "violations of international law" in his case.

    "Furthermore, the Working Group should urge for Mr Gross's immediate
    release and compensation for his wrongful conviction," the lawyers said.

    In a brief submitted to the working group, they said Gross had made five
    trips to Cuba to distribute computers and each time had declared them in
    customs, even getting receipts for the customs duties he paid.

    He was arrested on his fifth trip on December 3, 2009. - Sapa-AFP