Alan Gross, the American Jewish contractor jailed in Cuba, has maintained for more than two years that he was guilty of nothing more than naiveté when he smuggled contraband electronic equipment into the communist nation.
But official trip reports he filed for an American government agency, revealed by The Associated Press on February 12, paint a picture of a man who knew the risks he was taking. “Detection of satellite signals will be catastrophic,” Gross warned in a report that filtered back to the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to AP.
When he was arrested, Gross, a resident of suburban Washington, was carrying a high-tech cell phone chip more commonly used by the CIA or the Defense Department.
American Jewish organizations that campaign on Gross’s behalf say that the revelations will not harm the fight to free the 62-year-old, who was jailed for 15 years in 2009 and is in poor health. “At this point, if you’re passionate about Alan’s release, these new facts, or supposed facts, just muddle the water more,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
“The bottom line is, he remains a man who is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit,” Halber said.
The Cuban government has accused Gross of being a spy and of working to undermine it. Gross’s supporters say he was just a development worker trying to improve Internet access for the Cuban-Jewish community.
USAID paid a subcontractor, who in turn funded Gross. The communist regime considers USAID’s mission in Cuba illegal so, according to AP, Gross used American Jewish humanitarian trips to the island as a cover for his work.
Bruce Yudewitz, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Florida’s Jewish Federation of Broward County, told the Forward on February 14 that he believed there was ”some connection“ between Gross and a single trip his organization took to Cuba.
The following day, Yudewitz said he could “not confirm or deny whether [Gross] made any connections” with members of the federation group.