Friday, December 14, 2012

US official: Gross detention limiting US-Cuba relations

Posted on Tuesday, 12.11.12

US official: Gross detention limiting US-Cuba relations

Roberta Jacobson, the Obama administration's point person for the
Western Hemisphere, rejected any suggestion that Gross was spying in Cuba.
By Aaron L. Morrison
Special to The Miami Herald

NEW YORK -- There's no chance for broadening American-Cuban relations
until Cuba releases American subcontractor Alan Gross from prison,
Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs. said Tuesday.

During a presentation at the Council of the Americas in New York,
Jacobson reiterated the State Department's belief that the Cuban
government has no basis for refusing to release Gross, but remains
optimistic that the Cuban people's desire for a more open society might
influence a decision on his release.

"While we really wished that we could have moved forward with a broader
agenda with the Cuban government, it is the Cuban government that has
made that extremely difficult," Jacobson said. "There is a very easy way
to resolve that part of the agenda and that is to release Alan Gross…
just to be home with his mother, who has cancer, and his daughter, who
went through breast cancer last year."

Jacobson's remarks come just one week after the third anniversary of
Gross' arrest and imprisonment in Cuba. Gross, a 63-year-old native of
Maryland, was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, after delivering
satellite telephones to Cuban Jews so they could access the Web outside
of the government's telecommunications system. He was sentenced to 15
years in prison for acts against the "independence or territorial
integrity" of Cuba.

"We've been very clear about who Alan Gross is and what he did,"
Jacobson said, rejecting a suggestion by a member of the audience that
U.S. officials have misled about financing Gross' visits with
pro-democracy program funds. "We feel he needs to be treated as an
international development worker. He isn't and wasn't a spy and he
should be returned to his family."

Jacobson also highlighted some of the Obama administration's key
priorities in the Western Hemisphere; including energy development,
expanding educational exchange opportunities for students, and
encouraging freedom of expression and the press.

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