The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has joined a nationwide effort, led by the Washington-based Jewish Community Relations Council, to collect tens of thousands of signatures on a petition to free Alan Gross from prison in Cuba.
Gross, 61, of Potomac, Md., a contractor of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been held in a high-security prison in Cuba for almost two years and has been allowed little contact with his family and U.S. officials. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recently visited the island, hoping to secure Gross’ release, but that effort failed.
Gross had visited Cuba to set up a computer intranet for that communist country’s Jewish community. For that, he was arrested, convicted on espionage charges, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. At this point, only Cuban President Raul Castro can commute his sentence.
The petitions will be delivered to Castro and to others in the Cuban government.