Alan Gross, a member of Washington’s Jewish community and a contractor for USAID, was arrested in Cuba, held for 15 months without charges and ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison for essentially assisting the small Jewish community down there. His firm won a contract to promote democracy in Cuba, and his particular work involved providing satellite and internet equipment for the Jewish community of Havana. His arrest and imprisonment are an injustice, and the U.S. government has conditioned any further improvement in relations with Cuba on the release of Mr. Gross.
Mr. Gross is understandably distraught, and he has lost over 100 pounds since being taken into custody. He has been visited by U.S. officials, the local Jewish community, and Rev. Jesse Jackson has gone so far as to ask for his release and travel to Cuba to facilitate it.