World Jewish Congress | WorldJewishCongress.org | 07 February 2011
Prosecutors in Cuba are reportedly seeking a 20-year prison sentence for the Jewish American Alan Gross, a US government contractor that the State Department says was assisting Cuban Jews. Gross is accused of "Acts Against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State," the ‘Reuters’ news agency says, citing Cuban state media. The espionage charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. Gross could have faced the death penalty, ‘Reuters’ reported, adding that a trial date would be set soon and that US diplomats had been informed of the charges.
Gross was detained in December 2009. His wife Judy (pictured with him above) and State Department officials in Washington say he was in the country on a US Agency for International Development contract to help the country's Jewish community of about 1,500 to communicate with other Jewish communities through the internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with, or knowledge of Gross or the program. Cuban law prohibits bringing satellite phone equipment into the country without a permit. Gross reportedly is being held in a military hospital; he is suffering from health problems and is reported to have lost 90 pounds.