Carter may seek release of US Jewish contractor in Cuba

Former US president to meet with Raul Castro and Jewish community in visit to Havana; Alan Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

alan gross_311 reuters (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
alan gross_311 reuters
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Former US president Jimmy Carter will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, the leader of Cuba’s Catholic Church and the island’s Jewish community during a Havana visit starting on Monday amid speculation he will seek the release of a jailed American aid contractor.
His public schedule was issued on Saturday by the Cuban government, which invited him for his second visit to the country, the first coming in 2002. He is the only US president, in or out of power, to come to Cuba since a 1959 revolution that transformed the island into a communist state.
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Alan Gross had been arrested by Cuban authorities last year and charged with secretly delivering satellite phones to the Jewish community on the island and entering the country on the wrong visa.
Several Jewish groups, including the Conference of Presidents of Major North American Organizations and the American Jewish Committee have petitioned Havana since his arrest, calling for his immediate release.
Observers have speculated that Cuba is holding Gross as a bargaining chip it hopes to trade in return for several Cuba spies held in custody in the US.