News / Americas

US Diplomat Urges Cuba to Release Jailed Contractor

US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela (file photo)
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela (file photo)

The top U.S. diplomat for the Americas is calling for the "unconditional release" of a U.S. contractor who has been held in Cuba for more than one year on suspicion of spying.

Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela made the remark Thursday in Washington during a hearing on Latin America. In his prepared statement, Valenzuela said the U.S. deplores Cuba's recent announcement that prosecutors there intend to seek a 20-year sentence against contractor Alan Gross. Valenzuela described Gross as a dedicated development worker who was in Cuba providing support to members of the island's Jewish community.

Earlier this month, Cuban media reported that Gross is accused of violating Cuba's independence and territorial integrity and that a trial date would be set shortly.  Officials there say the United States has been informed of the decision through diplomatic channels and that Gross's family will be allowed to attend the trial.

The White House has said the move "compounds the injustice" Gross has already suffered.  A recent statement said officials remain deeply concerned for Gross's well-being and that of his family and called for his immediate release.  The State Department accused Cuba of violating justice by holding Gross for so long before charging him.

Gross has been held since December 2009.  Havana accuses him of distributing illegal satellite equipment to dissident groups.  The U.S. says he works for a private firm outside Washington called Development Alternatives, Incorporated.  The company has said Gross was taking part in a U.S. government-sponsored finance program to strengthen civil society in Cuba.  The U.S. has denied that Gross is a spy and previously has called for his release.

An official at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana has told VOA that Gross's continued detention is "an obstacle" for increased dialogue between both countries.  Jonathan Farrar made the remark during a recent visit to VOA's Washington headquarters.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

At Least 7 Dead in Mexico Maternity Hospital Blast

Mayor says dozens of people, including 22 children, were also injured when gas tank truck explodes outside building
More

HRW: Security Measures Erode Human Rights Worldwide

New Human Rights Watch report cites Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Israel and the United States among nations using security concerns to justify rights violations
More

Chilean MPs Approve Measure Allowing Civil Unions

Bill will give many legal rights afforded to married couples to about two million more Chileans - mostly unmarried heterosexuals but also gay couples
More

Don't Meddle in Our Politics, Cuba's Leader Warns US

Fomenting opposition to Cuba's government will undermine efforts at normalizing bilateral relations, he says at summit in Costa Rica
More

Owner of Gun That Killed Argentine Prosecutor Emerges From Hiding

Diego Lagomarsino says he lent firearm for protection to Alberto Nisman, who was probing 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires Jewish community center
More

Rights Group: MPs in Dozens of Countries Face Abuse

Inter-Parliamentary Union rights committee reports more than 300 lawmakers in 40 countries subject to dangers, including death
More