alan gross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
DENVER – The wife of a Jewish American, whose husband was sentenced to 15 years
in prison for subversion by a Cuban court, launched a national campaign on
Tuesday aimed at obtaining his release.
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Judy Gross asked the crowd
assembled at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in
Denver to lobby for the release of her husband, Alan Gross, who has been behind
bars for almost two years.
“We are desperate for him to return home,” she
told the audience. “On the eve of the two-year anniversary of his arrest and
incarceration, we want our community, our country and the world to remember that
Alan Gross needs to be released from Cuba. We ask you to please join us in 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.
Talks between Washington and Havana
hit a wall last month when the Caribbean nation demanded the release of five of
its citizens serving sentences in US prisons in exchange for Gross.
will certainly say unequivocally that the US is not considering the release of
any member of the Cuban Five in exchange,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria
Nuland was quoted as saying by AFP. “[Gross] is not a spy, and it is simply not
comparable with the crimes of the Cuban Five in any way.”
In light of the
impasse, his wife asked the audience to “contact your members of Congress and
tell them to take action on Alan’s behalf. Tell everyone you know about Alan.
Write letters to your newspapers. Let the Cuban government know that the Jewish
community wants Alan home.”
She reminded the Jewish audience that her
husband went to Cuba to help the local Jewish community.
“That Alan has
been convicted of crimes against the state of Cuba – and that he has been
sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping the Jewish community share prayers
and look at images of Jerusalem, is beyond any sense of reason,” she said. “It
is inhumane and it is unjust.”