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    Jailed U.S. contractor, sour U.S.-Cuba relations

    Jailed U.S. contractor, sour U.S.-Cuba relations
    Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:21am EDT

    (Reuters) – American Alan Gross has been held in Cuba since December on
    suspicions of espionage, although he has not been officially charged
    with a crime. The U.S. government has said he was not a spy but was in
    Cuba setting up Internet systems for Jewish groups under a federally
    funded contract promoting political change on the island.

    The following are facts about the case, which has stalled progress in
    U.S.-Cuba relations:

    * Gross, 61, was detained by Cuban authorities at the Havana airport as
    he was preparing to fly home on December 3.

    * He is said to have been in Cuba installing satellite equipment to
    provide Internet access for Cuban Jewish groups.

    * He was working as a contractor for Maryland-based company DAI under a
    U.S. Agency for International Development program aimed at promoting
    democracy in Cuba.

    * U.S.-Cuba relations had warmed slightly under President Barack Obama,
    but U.S. officials say there will be no major initiatives with its
    longtime ideological enemy as long as Gross is held.

    * Cuba views the USAID program as part of the United States'
    long-standing campaign to subvert the island's communist-led government.

    * Cuban officials have said Gross was suspected of espionage and
    providing illegal satellite communications equipment to dissidents, but
    the case is under investigation.

    * Cuba's Law 88 says that anyone who "participates in the distribution
    of financial, material or other resources that come from the United
    States government … faces a sanction of three to eight years in prison."

    * Gross is being held in a Havana military hospital, but his wife, Judy
    Gross, visited him in Cuba in late July.

    * She has written a letter to President Raul Castro, expressing remorse
    for her husband's work and asking for his release due to their
    daughter's illness.

    * New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson came to Cuba in late August to
    meet with Cuban officials about Gross, but left empty-handed.

    * A U.S. State Department spokesman said on September 2 there was no
    truth to reports the United States may swap five jailed Cuban agents for

    * Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. Assistant Secretary of
    State Arturo Valenzuela discussed the Gross case on September 24 on the
    sidelines of U.N. General Assembly in New York.

    * Judy Gross said the U.S. government had done little to help her husband.

    (Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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