Hope for improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba suffered a setback this week as the White House condemned the island nation's plan to prosecute an American contractor, apparently suspected of being a spy by the Cubans.
Alan Gross, 61, was arrested in late 2009 in Cuba while working as a contractor for the U.S. government. He was said to involved in the distribution of satellite phones and computer equipment to Jewish people so they could communicate with Jews in other countries. On Friday, Cuban prosecutors said they would charge Gross with "acts against the integrity and independence" of their country, and seek a 20-year sentence.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the decision "compounded an injustice suffered by a man helping to increase the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people." Gross has been "unjustly detained and deprived of his liberty and freedom for the last 14 months," President Obama's spokeman said. He should be released "so he can come home to his wife and family," Gibbs insisted.
Gross' work in Cuba was part of a U.S. Agency for International Development democracy-promotion program that grew under former President George W. Bush. according to the Washington Post
His lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, told the Post that Gross was "caught in the middle of a long-standing dispute between Cuba and the United States." His family lives in Potomac, Md.
Folo Tom Diemer on Twitter http://twitter.com/tomdiemer