Obama Admin. Official: Alan Gross is a Hostage of the Castro Dictatorship

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

February 15, 2011

Obama Admin. Official: Alan Gross is a Hostage of the Castro Dictatorship

Washington, DC- During a hearing of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, an Obama administration official admitted that Alan Gross is a hostage of the Castro dictatorship.

Gross is an American citizen who has been imprisoned by the Castro dictatorship without access to legal representation or a proper trial since December of 2009 when he was on the island providing satellite phones and internet access for Jewish groups.  Last month, reports from Cuban state-controlled media revealed that Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 20-year jail term for the American contractor.

Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, from the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department, testified at the hearing before the subcommittee on issues relating to the U.S.’s policy on Latin America.

Western Hemisphere Subcommittee member Congressman David Rivera (FL-25) questioned Valenzuela about Gross and the treatment that American citizens receive at the hands of the Castro dictatorship.

Rivera asked Valenzuela whether he believes that Gross is a hostage. He pointed out that, by Valenzuela’s own admission, the Castro dictatorship has brought up the issue of sanctions during talks relating to Gross’s release, and that Gross’s wife was able to visit him in Cuba at the same time that the wife of one of the “Cuban Five” spies was able to visit her husband who is serving a federal prison sentence in the United States.

Valenzuela said that was not a coincidence.

The Cuban Five spies are Cuban intelligence officers who were in the United States to infiltrate Cuban exile organizations, and were convicted of espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.  They are currently serving federal prison sentences.

“Let me refer you to Webster’s dictionary definition of a hostage as ‘a person taken by force to secure the taker’s demands’,” Rivera said to Valenzuela.  “You’ve told me there was no coincidence in the visitation schedules of Gross’s wife, and the wife of one of the Cuban Five spies, and that the Castro dictatorship has raised the issue of sanctions in your discussions.  Based on those things, and on the definition that I just read to you, do you consider Mr. Gross to be a hostage of the Castro dictatorship?”

“I’ll agree with you he is a hostage,” Valenzuela said.

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