Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    US official: Gross detention limiting US-Cuba relations

    Posted on Tuesday, 12.11.12


    US official: detention limiting US-Cuba relations

    Roberta Jacobson, the Obama administration's point person for the

    Western Hemisphere, rejected any suggestion that Gross was spying in Cuba.

    By Aaron L. Morrison

    Special to The Miami Herald

    NEW YORK — There's no chance for broadening American-Cuban relations

    until Cuba releases American subcontractor Alan Gross from ,

    Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western

    Hemisphere Affairs. said Tuesday.

    During a presentation at the Council of the Americas in New York,

    Jacobson reiterated the State Department's belief that the Cuban

    government has no basis for refusing to release Gross, but remains

    optimistic that the Cuban people's desire for a more open society might

    influence a decision on his release.

    "While we really wished that we could have moved forward with a broader

    agenda with the Cuban government, it is the Cuban government that has

    made that extremely difficult," Jacobson said. "There is a very easy way

    to resolve that part of the agenda and that is to release Alan Gross…

    just to be home with his mother, who has cancer, and his daughter, who

    went through breast cancer last year."

    Jacobson's remarks come just one week after the third anniversary of

    Gross' arrest and imprisonment in Cuba. Gross, a 63-year-old native of

    Maryland, was in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, after delivering

    satellite telephones to Cuban Jews so they could access the Web outside

    of the government's telecommunications system. He was sentenced to 15

    years in prison for acts against the "independence or territorial

    integrity" of Cuba.

    "We've been very clear about who Alan Gross is and what he did,"

    Jacobson said, rejecting a suggestion by a member of the audience that

    U.S. officials have misled about financing Gross' visits with

    pro-democracy program funds. "We feel he needs to be treated as an

    international development worker. He isn't and wasn't a spy and he

    should be returned to his family."

    Jacobson also highlighted some of the Obama administration's key

    priorities in the Western Hemisphere; including energy development,

    expanding educational exchange opportunities for students, and

    encouraging of and the press.