JTA Wire Service
Jailed American Jewish contractor Alan Gross "was no spy," Cuban
President Raul Castro agreed in a meeting with two visiting U.S.
senators, Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby.
Leahy (D-Vt.) told The Associated Press that Castro made the remark
during a 2 1/2-hour meeting in Havana on Feb. 23. Leahy and Shelby
(R-Ala.) offered to take Gross back to the United States on their plane,
AP reported. Leahy told the AP that "we have a long way to go" to win
Castro brought up the case of five Cuban agents serving long jail terms
in the United States, including one released last year who has not been
allowed to return to Cuba during his three-year probation, Leahy told
Earlier in the day, Leahy had met with Gross, who is serving a 15-year
prison sentence in a military prison in Havana.
Gross was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba for "crimes
against the state" for distributing laptop computers and connecting
Cuban Jews to the Internet. He spoke virtually no Spanish and traveled
to Cuba five times under his own name before his arrest.
Gross' family and U.S. State Department officials say that Gross was in
the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to
help the country's 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities
using the Internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any
contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program
The senators are part of an American congressional delegation touring
Cuba, Haiti and Colombia.
[This story courtesy the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, http://www.jta.org .]
This story reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.