State Dept. nominee says she'll prioritize Gross case
President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead U.S. foreign policy in Latin America told lawmakers Tuesday that she would prioritize the release of a Maryland man serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba for crimes against the state.
Alan Gross, who was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested in December 2009, has maintained his innocence. The Baltimore native, a veteran international development worker, was helping Cuba’s small Jewish community develop an intranet and improve access to the Internet.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised Gross’s case during the confirmation hearing Tuesday for Roberta Jacobson to serve as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
“For nearly two years, the Cuban government has held Alan Gross under horrible terms and conditions, violating his human rights and twisting the rule of law to suit their own needs,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Mr. Gross should be immediately and unconditionally released so he can return home. The health and humanitarian needs of he and his family are paramount.”
Cardin asked Jacobson to prioritize Gross’s release. She agreed.