US Delegation Meets with Contractor Jailed in Cuba

A U.S. delegation has visited an American contractor jailed in Cuba for crimes against the communist state.

Political strategist Donna Brazile said Thursday the delegation spoke with Alan Gross for about two hours and found him “in good spirits.” Brazile said Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence, “is not bitter” but eager to return home.

The group was in Cuba as part of a trip sponsored by the Center for Democracy in the Americas, which works to improve relations between the two longtime ideological foes, a process that has been hindered by Gross’ incarceration.

Gross was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 for bringing communications equipment into Cuba. The contractor has said he was just trying to improve Internet access for the island’s small Jewish community.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Gross in March and called on authorities there to release him. Mr. Carter said he believed Gross was innocent of serious crimes, but also that Cuban officials had made it very clear to him that Gross’s freedom would not be granted.

Gross’s mother and daughter are both suffering from cancer, and there have been requests to release the contractor on humanitarian grounds.

The United States and Cuba do not have formal diplomatic relations, only interests sections that are technically part of the Swiss embassies in each other’s capitals.

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