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U.S. Contractor Held in Cuba Assisted Jews

A U.S. contractor held in Cuba since early December provided communications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community to help them access the internet and connect with world Jewry.

Alan P. Gross, 60, an international development expert for the Bethesda-based Development Alternatives Inc., a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been accused by Cuba of being a spy.

Though he has been in jail since Dec. 4, Gross’ identity was first revealed Wednesday in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Gross was in Cuba as part of a U.S. government program, according to the Times. Unnamed American officials told the newspaper that Gross had entered on the wrong kind of visa, but assert that he is not a spy.

Gross brought computer and satellite equipment to three Jewish non-profit groups during several visits to Cuba, the Times reported. His December trip was meant as a follow-up, to see how the organizations were making use of the equipment and know-how.

Gross’ detention has also increased fears that the Jewish groups he was working with could face repercussions, according to the Washington Post.

It is illegal for Cuban citizens to cooperate with U.S.-sponsored democracy programs, the Post reported.

The U.S. government spends more than $45 million as year on undercover Cuba programs, according to the Times.

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