alan gross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
NEW YORK – Cuba’s Supreme Court on Friday rejected the appeal of Jewish-American
aid contractor Alan Gross, upholding his conviction on charges of undermining
Gross’s lawyer Peter J. Kahn on Friday criticized the court’s
decision and said the Maryland native’s family remained hopeful that he would be
Jewish-American addresses Cuban top
top court to hear appeal of US-Jewish
“While we are not surprised, we are extremely disappointed
with today’s ruling, which marks the end of Alan’s legal process in Cuba,” Kahn
said in a statement. “The family is heartbroken by today’s decision, but remains
hopeful that there continues to be room for a diplomatic resolution of this
The 62-year-old Gross was sent to Havana by the United States
Agency for International Development in 2009 to set up a communications center
for the local Jewish community. He was arrested in December of that year by
Cuban police for bringing satellite phones and laptops into the country without
permission. In March 2011, a Cuban court found Gross guilty of subversion and
sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
The court’s decision on Friday marks
a low point in relations between Cuba and the US, which has protested Gross’s
Some speculate Havana is using Gross as a bargaining chip
to obtain the release of several Cuban nationals serving sentences in US prisons
Several Jewish-American organizations have been working
behind the scenes to bring about Gross’s release. Their involvement has been
complicated by fear of jeopardizing the good relations between Cuba’s Jewish
community and its government.
“No matter where one falls on the political
spectrum with regard to US-Cuba relations, we can all recognize that it is a
tragedy for Alan to serve a 15-year prison sentence for his efforts to improve
Internet connectivity for the Jewish community in Cuba,” Kahn said.
week, The Washington Post called in an editorial for Havana to release Gross,
saying it was highly unlikely he was a spy.
“Cuban authorities have
portrayed Mr. Gross as a spy involved in an enterprise aimed at undermining the
regime,” the paper wrote.
“That seems unlikely in the extreme. In fact,
Mr. Gross, a veteran development worker who had minimal command of Spanish, was
part of a democratization project of the sort the US government runs in
countries all over the world.”
The Anti-Defamation League called on
Havana to rescind the court decision.
“We call on the Cuban government to
release Mr. Gross immediately on humanitarian grounds and as a gesture of
goodwill to the American people,” said Abraham H.
Foxman, ADL national
director. “We further urge international leaders who maintain diplomatic
relations with Cuba to encourage President Raul Castro to release
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
said the Supreme Court’s ruling was a disappointment and called on the
government of Raul Castro to take into consideration the health concerns of
“We now reiterate our request to the president and urge
him to grant clemency on humanitarian grounds as quickly as possible and allow
Mr. Gross to be reunited with his family, especially his daughter and mother,
who are both battling cancer,” Conference of Presidents Chairman Richard Stone
and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said. “We express our support for
and solidarity with the entire Gross family during this difficult time.”