US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has urged Jewish groups to join the campaign for the release of Alan P. Gross (pictured below with his wife), an American government contractor who has been detained in Cuba for several months without charges. Clinton told representatives of the American Jewish community that they should add their voices to calls for the Cuban government to release Gross, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development who was reportedly helping members of Cuba's small Jewish community use the internet to stay in contact with each other.
"Alan was providing information and technology that would assist this community to be better connected," Clinton said at a State Department reception in honor of Hannah Rosenthal, the Obama administration's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. Gross' wife, Judy, attended the event. "Our government works every single day through every channel for his release and safe return home," Clinton said. "But I am really making an appeal to the active Jewish community here in our country to join this cause ... because this family deserves to be reunited and each and every one of us should do everything we can to make it clear to the Cuban government that Alan Gross needs to come home."
Gross, 60, was working in Cuba for a firm contracted by USAID when he was arrested as a suspected spy in Havana in December 2009. He has been held without charge in the capital's high-security Villa Marista prison since. Washington says Gross has committed no crime and has repeatedly appealed for his release on humanitarian grounds. In May, the head of Cuba's High Court said prosecutors had yet to open a legal case against him. Formal charges cannot be filed in Cuba without a judicial accusation and the opening of a case, so it appears unlikely charges against Gross are imminent.
Clinton's appeal to the US Jewish community followed the release on Tuesday of seven jailed Cuban dissidents who were sent to Spain, the first of 52 political prisoners to be freed under an agreement worked out between Cuban authorities and the Catholic Church.