Expert Suggests Pardon Possible for Jailed Jewish American
By Paul Berger
Cuban officials have put U.S. media on alert that an announcement is imminent on the plight of Alan Gross, a Jewish contractor held in a Cuban jail for almost three years. The announcement is expected to be made the morning of November 28, the officials said.
The warning came one day after Cuba expert Jaime Suchlicki, of Miami University, published an article in the Miami Herald hinting that Cuba is considering a pardon for Gross. Suchlicki, director of the university’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, told the Forward that his source is a former Cuban intelligence official living in Miami. An ardent critic of the Castro regime, Suchlicki said he hoped that the Obama Administration would make no concessions if Gross was freed. Cuban officials said they did not know if such a pardon has even been granted. Alan’s wife, Judy Gross, did not return a call for comment.
The developments follow several weeks of intense pressure on the Cuban and American governments to resolve Gross’s case. Gross was arrested in Havana, in December 2009, while working as an independent subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development. He claimed to have been trying to help improve internet access for the island’s Jewish community, but he was accused of working to subvert the Cuban government. When Gross was arrested, he was found in possession of high-tech satellite equipment commonly used by the Defense Department.
In recent weeks, Gross’s wife Judy and a human rights lawyer, Jared Genser, have embarked on a campaign to draw greater attention to the case and to increase pressure on the Cuban regime. Gross’ supporters saw the time as ripe, coming soon after Barack Obama’s re-election to a second term. The Gross campaign strategy included reporting Cuba to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture claiming that an insufficient amount of medical attention was being given to Alan and that it constituted torture.
Gross’s health has deteriorated rapidly since he was jailed. He has lost more than 100 pounds and he has developed a mass on his shoulder, which Cuba insists is not life-threatening but that his family says could be cancerous. On November 16, Alan and Judy Gross filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government and Development Alternatives Inc, the contractor that sent Gross to Cuba, claiming that they failed to adequately train him or warn him of the risks of working in Cuba.