The government of Cuba says it has pardoned and will release some 2,900 prisoners held in its jails. President Raul Castro called the pre-Christmas announcement a humanitarian gesture that would include women, the ailing, people older than 60, dozens of foreigners and a small number of political prisoners who have served a large part of their sentence with good behavior.
The United States is deeply disappointed that this pardon was not extended to Alan Gross, an American who is unjustly imprisoned in Cuba. The fact that the Council of State did not consider Mr. Gross's deteriorating health and the two years he has already spent behind bars suggests the gesture was a calculated and hollow one indeed.
Sixty-two years old and suffering from arthritis, Mr. Gross is a dedicated development professional who has a long history of providing assistance and support to underserved communities in more than 50 countries. He was a subcontractor working on a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Cuba helping connect members of civil society to the outside world. For these well-intentioned activities, he was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
We continue to call on the Cuban authorities to release Mr. Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs.