American convicted of espionage for importing equipment to provide internet access to Jewish community
August 7, 2012, 1:33 am
WASHINGTON — Alan Gross, a Jewish American imprisoned in Cuba for more than two years, would like to see a Cuban baseball game, eat ribs and drink Scotch if and when he gets out of prison, his older sister Monday.
Gross’ sister Bonnie Rubinstein was in Washington on Monday for a weekly demonstration in front of Cuba’s equivalent of an embassy. In an interview with the Associated Press afterward, she said her 63-year-old brother is a Washington Redskins football fan who has grown interested in Cuban baseball because his jailors watch games. She said he would also like to enjoy ribs with her and other family members in Texas and her husband recently bought a bottle of 12-year-old single-malt Scotch he plans to save until his brother-in-law is home.
It could be a while. Gross, a Maryland native, has been in prison for almost 1,000 days. He was arrested in 2009 while working for a US government subcontractor as part of a democracy-building program in Cuba. He is now serving a 15-year prison term for bringing restricted communications equipment into Cuba, which Gross said was meant to provide internet access to the local Jewish community. This past March, Jewish groups asked the pope to intervene on Gross’ behalf, and made a Passover appeal to Cuba to release him.
In May, a Cuban official said her government was open to negotiating Gross’ release. But there has been no progress since then. Rubenstein, who is four years older than her brother and lives in Dallas, was one of more than a dozen supporters who stood in front of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington chanting “Free Alan Gross Now” and “Let Alan Gross Go.” Rubinstein described her brother as gregarious and outgoing, a lover of music and a whiz at picking up and playing musical instruments. She also expressed frustration that her brother remains in prison in Cuba with a number of growing health issues. “Why is he still there?” she asked, adding that she feels “he’s being ignored” by the US government. “Alan does not want to be forgotten. He doesn’t want to be left there. He wants people to know about him,” she said.