Tags: cuba | america | detained | jewish

American Held in Cuba Helped Jewish Groups

Wednesday, 13 Jan 2010 10:49 AM


An American who has been jailed in Cuba and denounced as a spy is a 60-year-old international development expert from Potomac who was working on a U.S. government project to help the island's Jewish community access the Internet, according to former colleagues and other sources.

The arrest of Alan P. Gross was the clearest sign yet of a chill between Washington and Havana, after an initial warming under the Obama administration. The Cuban government has not charged Gross. But it has kept him in prison since his Dec. 4 arrest and has portrayed his activities as part of a long-running U.S. campaign for regime change in the island nation.

Gross was working for a controversial democracy-promotion program -- which had ballooned under the Bush administration -- to provide communications equipment to break the Cuban government's "information blockade."

Friends said Gross was excited about the program and did not seem to realize the danger he faced.

"It was probably pure naiveness, innocence -- not seeing anything wrong with what he was doing," said Bob Rourke, a development consultant who has known Gross for 20 years. "He's definitely not a shrewd, calculating person. He's someone who genuinely gets into situations because he thinks he can help."

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