Two years after the Cuban government imprisoned American Alan Gross for illegally bringing internet equipment to the communist island, the US continues to push for his release.
National Council of Churches General Secretary Michael Kinnamon travelled to Cuba last week to meet with Cuban parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon and with the Communist party’s top official for religious affairs.
No statements have been made, however, by Cuban authorities that indicate an early release from Gross’s 15-year sentence might be possible.
Kinnamon reported that Gross appeared to have lost about 100 pounds and was suffering from several medical conditions, but that his spirits were good.
This past August a Cuban Supreme Court upheld the prison sentence of the 62-year-old U.S. government subcontractor. This means that there are no further judicial recourses left to appeal for his release.
U.S. officials and Gross’s family members are now hoping to find a way to free him through humanitarian means.
Gross has said he was only trying to help Cuba’s Jewish community by giving them laptops and communications equipment and that he was not trying to harm the Cuban government.
The Supreme Court said that Gross was part of a US government programme whose purpose was to destabilise and subvert Cuba’s communist system.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said this week, “Gross is a dedicated international development worker who has devoted his life to helping people in more than 50 countries.”
The situation has brought relations between Cuba and the US to a standstill.