News / Americas

Rabbis Urge US Action to Free American Jailed in Cuba

FILE - This Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, shows jailed American Alan Gross during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba.FILE - This Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, shows jailed American Alan Gross during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba.
x
FILE - This Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, shows jailed American Alan Gross during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba.
FILE - This Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, shows jailed American Alan Gross during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba.
Reuters

Three hundred U.S. rabbis urged President Barack Obama to “take action” to secure the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba for attempting to establish Internet communications for Cuban Jews.

Gross, 65 and in deteriorating health, has served nearly five years of a 15-year sentence, and his case remains a serious obstacle to improving U.S.-Cuban relations, which have been marked by more than 50 years of hostility.

A subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, he was working on a project Cuba considered illegal and subversive when he was arrested in 2009.

FILE - People walk beside the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital where U.S. government contract worker Alan Gross is held prisoner in Havana, March 19, 2013.FILE - People walk beside the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital where U.S. government contract worker Alan Gross is held prisoner in Havana, March 19, 2013.
x
FILE - People walk beside the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital where U.S. government contract worker Alan Gross is held prisoner in Havana, March 19, 2013.
FILE - People walk beside the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital where U.S. government contract worker Alan Gross is held prisoner in Havana, March 19, 2013.

​“Alan went to Cuba on behalf of our government. His immediate release from prison in Cuba and return to the U.S. must be a priority for our nation. Indeed, we believe this is a moral imperative,” the rabbis wrote in a letter dated Friday and released to the media by Gross' lawyer on Monday.

Last year a bipartisan group of 66 U.S. senators sent a similar letter to Obama, but little apparent progress has been made toward Gross' release.

Cuba has called for a swap of Gross for three of its spies serving long prison terms in the United States, an idea the Americans have rejected. The United States has repeatedly demanded Gross' release, though formal talks on the issue have never taken place.

Gross has vowed not to spend another year in prison, threatening to take his own life, according to his Washington-based lawyer, Scott Gilbert.

Increasingly despondent, especially since the death of his 92-year-old mother in June, Gross has lost 100 pounds (46 kg) in prison and most of the vision in his right eye, and his failing hips prevent him from exercising, according to Gilbert.

“Our communities are gravely concerned that Alan continues to languish in a Cuban prison nearly five years after his arrest,” the rabbis wrote to Obama. “We ask, with all respect, that you take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a prompt end to Alan's, and his family's, continuing nightmare.” 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Judge Holds Argentina in Contempt Over Bond Payment Plan

In rare move, District Judge Thomas Griesa says country taking 'illegal' steps to evade his orders in longstanding dispute with hedge funds over defaulted debt
More

Brazil's Rousseff Extends Lead Over Silva in Elections

President Dilma Rousseff's expected victory margin over closest rival Marina Silva has surged to 9 percentage points
More

8 Killed in Peru Quake

The victims of the 4.9-magnitude tremor were all from the mountainous community of Misca, where many homes collapsed in the quake
More

S. Africa Gives Cuba $31 Million Economic Aid

South African President Jacob Zuma pledged the money to Cuba in 2010, but its implementation was delayed for several years
More

At UN, Indigenous Forest Peoples Express Folk Spirituality, 'Green' Values'

Over 1,000 delegates were invited to a UN conference to share perspectives on 'best practices' to ensure indigenous rights worldwide.
More

Venezuela Suffers Another Blackout

South American OPEC member nation seeing increasing power cuts in recent years, labeled as evidence of mismanagement by the socialist authorities
More