One year ago this month, an American development sub-contractor named Alan Gross was arrested by Cuban authorities as he was working with a program to bring greater Internet access to civil society groups on the island nation, including Cuba's Jewish communities.
Upset with his efforts to distribute equipment that would allow these groups to better communicate among themselves and with their counterparts around the world, the government arrested Mr. Gross and has held him for over a year without any criminal charge. Despite the pleadings of his family, and the repeated requests of the United States and others in the international community, he remains in jail to this day.
Mr. Gross, 61 years old, works for an American company that was conducting 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. Cuban President Raul Castro himself launched a somewhat similar effort in 2008 when he took steps to liberalize government policies on goods and services, allowing the private ownership of personal computers.
It is long overdue for Cuban authorities to release Mr. Gross. He has languished in jail for more than a year without charges, a clear violation of international human rights obligations and commitments regarding due process and judicial procedure. The United States is deeply concerned about his welfare and urges again that he be freed on humanitarian grounds. His continued detention is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two nations.