Wednesday, December 5, 2012

U.S. lawmakers demand Cuba free Alan Gross

U.S. lawmakers demand Cuba free Alan Gross
Published December 04, 2012

The imprisonment in Cuba of U.S. contractor Alan Gross is an obstacle to
better relations between Havana and Washington, senators said Tuesday,
demanding the Maryland man's immediate and unconditional release.

The prisoner's wife, Judy Gross, was joined by Sens. Ben Cardin and
Barbara Mikulski - both Democrats from Maryland - and Jerry Moran, a
Kansas Republican, at a press conference.

"Mr. Castro, a message from the U.S. Senate: let Alan Gross go, let him
go today, let him go now," Mikulski said, addressing Cuban President
Raul Castro.

"Mr. Castro, you are illegally holding him on a trumped up charge
against his own will to the devastation of his health," she said.

"I'm one who since July of 2000 have been engaged in trying to create
greater opportunities for American agriculture, farmers and ranchers to
deal with Cuba and have the opportunity to sell our products," Moran said.

"I'm no longer willing to pursue this further engagement until Alan
Gross is released," the Republican added.

Cardin stressed that Gross' detention is preventing any progress in
bilateral relations.

"We are all looking forward to a better relation bet Cuba and the us ...
and we all hope that Cuba will do the right thing," he said.

Now 63, Gross was detained in Havana three years ago in possession of
satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute
among Cuba's Jewish community.

Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion
on the Communist-ruled island. Last August, Cuba's highest court upheld
the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross five months earlier.

"We have to start on a clean slate, meaning let's forget about the five
(Cuban intelligence officers held in the United States), let's forget
about what's happened in the past, let's just sit down and talk," Judy
Gross said Tuesday in comments to Efe.

Cuba says the five intelligence officers were sent to Florida in the
wake of several terror bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by
anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative.

The five were arrested in 1998 and convicted three years later by a
federal jury in Miami.

One of the spies is free on probation, but must remain on U.S. soil. The
others are still behind bars. EFE

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