As Anniversary Nears, Md. Man Remains In Cuban Prison - Cecil Daily: Regional News

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bringing computer equipment to Cuba illegally, part of a program to bring Internet connectivity to the countrys Jewish population. In those five years, Gross has lost his mother, the vision in his right eye and 100 pounds, according to a letter to President Barack Obama signed by 300 rabbis earlier this year. In November 2012, Gross and his wife Judy Gross, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government and the contractor, Development Alternatives, based out of Bethesda. On Friday, a federal appeals court in Washington upheld the decision of the district court that the U.S. government was not liable since the incident took place outside the country, Reuters reported. The case has brought attention to the debate over relations with Cuba, a country that is officially on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and the strategies used to deal with it. The Alan Gross case is still the principle obstacle to any dramatic improvement, in U.S.-Cuba relations, said William LeoGrande, a professor at American University and co-author of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana. There was a gradual improvement in relations prior to the arrest of Gross, but soon after the incident in 2009 that improvement was brought to a standstill, LeoGrande said. Since 2012 however, there have been lower level areas of mutual cooperation, such as an agreement in March among five countries on procedures to deal with oil spills.