Friday, September 24, 2010

Wife of detained US contractor visits him in Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 09.23.10
Wife of detained US contractor visits him in Cuba
Associated Press Writers

HAVANA -- The wife of an American contractor detained in Cuba for nine
months on suspicion of spying has been allowed to come to the island and
visit him, two people familiar with the case said Thursday.

Alan and Judy Gross met in mid-August, apparently at a beach home
provided by the Cuban government. The sources spoke to The Associated
Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case
and the fact they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Neither source would provide any additional details on the meeting or
say where exactly it took place or how long it lasted. American
officials have described Gross as having lost weight since his
incarceration, but have also said he is being treated well.

Gross's family had no comment, nor did the Cuban government. Gloria
Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which
Washington maintains instead of an embassy, would say only that American
consular officials meet with Gross monthly.

Gross, 60, a native of Potomac, Maryland, was working for a firm
contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was
arrested Dec. 3 and sent to Havana's high-security Villa Marista prison.
He has not been charged, but Cuban officials including President Raul
Castro have accused him of spying.

The U.S. says Gross committed no crime and his wife has said he brought
communications equipment intended for island Jewish groups, not for
political use.

It was not clear if Judy Gross' visit signaled that the case is any
closer to resolution. Gross' long detention has been held up as a key
stumbling block to improved U.S.-Cuba relations.

In July, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took the unusual
step of urging Jewish groups to join the campaign to persuade Cuba to
release Gross.

"Alan was providing information and technology that would assist this
community to be better connected," Clinton said at a State Department

Visiting New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said during an Aug. 26 trip to
Havana that he appealed to Cuban authorities to treat the detention as a
"humanitarian case," and that he thought he had made some inroads.

Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Washington-based Council on Foreign
Relations who met with Fidel Castro and other officials during a recent
visit, also said she got the sense Cuba would like to see the case resolved.

Judy Gross's visit comes amid rumors that the Obama administration might
loosen travel restrictions to allow more students, researchers and
educators to come to the island.

America has maintained a 48-year embargo that chokes off nearly all
trade to Cuba, and prohibits American tourists from coming here. The
project Gross worked with was part of a $40 million a year USAID program
to promote democracy and political change on the island.

U.S. officials defend it, saying they will never give up on pushing for
democracy and openness in Cuba, but the program has been criticized by
detractors as ineffective and counterproductive.

Cuban officials have been clamoring for more family access to five Cuban
agents serving long sentences in the United States for infiltrating
anti-Castro groups. Cuba considers the men heroes.

Some have speculated Gross' release could be part of an exchange that
would see one or more of the Cuban agents come home, though Washington
has repeatedly denied such plans are in the works.

No comments:

Post a Comment