Fourteen months after he was arrested by Cuban authorities while working to bring greater Internet access to civil society groups on the island, the other shoe has dropped on American contractor Alan Gross.
Government prosecutors said they will finally file criminal charges against the ailing 61-year old aid worker, accusing him of "acts against the integrity and independence" of their country. If convicted, he could face up to 20 more years in prison.
Mr. Gross works for an American company that was implementing a program in Cuba for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Hardly subversive, its aim is to strengthen civil society organizations and improve the flow of information to and from the island. Mr. Gross was particularly engaged with helping members of the island's Jewish communities seeking to communicate with other members of their faith around the world. Even Cuban President Raul Castro has recognized the need for the Cuban people to become more connected through technology, when in 2008 he took steps to liberalize government policies on goods and services, allowing the private ownership of cell phones and personal computers.
Mr. Gross' long imprisonment without charge was contrary to all international human rights obligations and commitments regarding justice and due process. The severe charges now being considered compound a serious injustice against a man already unfairly detained and deprived of his liberty.
The United States is deeply concerned about Mr. Gross's welfare and urges again that he be freed without conditions and allowed to return to his family in the United States. His continued detention is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two nations.