U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today sent a letter to Cuban president Raúl Castro, urging him to release American citizen Alan Gross from Cuban prison citing humanitarian concerns.
Mr. Gross visited Cuba as a USAID subcontractor as part of a program to expand Internet access to the island's small Jewish community. Gross was bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to that community, but the Cuban government charged him with setting up Cuban dissidents with a sophisticated satellite communication system that would be untraceable and impenetrable. He was arrested on December 3, 2009, tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged "actions against the independence or territorial integrity of the state."
Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost 105 pounds. He has degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his shoulder, which he fears may become permanent. He also suffers from mental anguish because of separation from his family, several of whom have serious medical conditions.
A copy of the letter is below:
President Raúl Castro
Republic of Cuba
C/O Cuban Interests Section
2630 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Dear President Castro:
I write to express my grave concern for the imprisonment of Alan Gross and urge you to release this American citizen from detention based upon humanitarian considerations. As you know, Mr. Gross was arrested on December 3, 2009 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged "actions against the independence or territorial integrity of the state." At the time he was a subcontractor for a U.S. government agency.
A range of concerns justify his release on humanitarian grounds. He has lost 48 kilograms. Additionally, he has degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his shoulder. His physical illness and infirmity are accompanied by the mental anguish of separation from his family. The crushing emotional strain is compounded by the fact that two of his family members have life threatening medical conditions. His daughter is being treated for breast cancer, and his 90-year-old mother, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer approximately 17 months ago. Her deteriorating condition raises their mutual concern they will never see each other again.
I ask you to carefully consider this request and release Alan based upon the most fundamental humanitarian considerations.
Senator Pat Toomey