New York Times: Release Alan Gross
An editorial from the New York Times:
Release Alan Gross
When he was arrested in Havana in late 2009, Alan Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, was helping Cuba’s Jewish community get better access to the Internet. A Cuban court last year found him guilty of participating in a “subversive project of the U.S. government that aimed to destroy the revolution through the use of communications systems out of the control of authorities,” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. He has languished in a military hospital ever since. His lawyer says he has lost more than 100 pounds and suffers from severe arthritis. As an act of mercy, the Cuban government should release Mr. Gross.
We hope that when Pope Benedict XVI visits the island next week, he will urge its president, Raúl Castro, to do so. The pope must press the Cuban leader to end the harassment of dissidents and tell him that the world has not forgotten the Cuban people’s yearning for freedom.
Only in a repressive country like Cuba would Mr. Gross’s efforts be characterized as a threat to the state. Full access to information and communications is a human right. Mr. Gross did misrepresent himself when he entered the country on a tourist visa and did bring in communications equipment without a license. But a 15-year sentence for those violations is absurd and inhumane.
Cuba has tried to use Mr. Gross as a chip to get the United States to release the “Cuban Five” — five men convicted in 2001 of spying on anti-Castro exiles. There is no comparison, but some compromise should be possible. One of the five, René González, is on parole, and a federal judge in Miami has now agreed he can return to Cuba for two weeks to visit a brother who has cancer. Cuban officials should immediately allow Mr. Gross to return to the United States to visit his mother, who has cancer. Once both men are home, an agreement to keep them home should be made.