WASHINGTON (JTA) – Alan Gross, a contractor that the U.S. State Department says was assisting Cuban Jews, marked a year in a Cuban jail.
Cuban authorities detained Gross on Dec. 3, 2009 on his way out of the country, saying he was a spy.
Gross’ family and State Department officials say he was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country’s Jewish community of about 1,500 to communicate with other Jewish communities through the Internet.
The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has rallied U.S. Jewish groups to press Cuba for Gross’ release.
Gross, who has gout, has lot 90 pounds in prison, his lawyer says, and has yet to be charged.
"Alan’s incarceration for a year without clarity of the legal process he will face or its timing is a travesty," Peter Kahn said in a statement. "It violates every international standard of justice and due process. We continue to urge the Cuban authorities to release Alan immediately based on humanitarian grounds, as well as the fact that he has already served one year in a Cuban prison."
Gross’ wife, Judy, in October wrote Cuban President Raul Castro expressing regret, saying she recognized "the Cuban government may not like the type of work that Alan was doing in Cuba," but that he did not intend harm.
She urged Castro to release Gross, informing the Cuban leader that the jailed man’s 26-year-old daughter was diagnosed recently with breast cancer.