Kerry appeals to Vatican to help free American jailed in Cuba
Tuesday Jan 14, 2014 1:23 PM
By Daniel Arkin, Staff Writer, NBC News
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday called on the Vatican to help
secure the release of an American contractor who has been jailed in Cuba
for nearly five years.
“I raised the issue of Alan Gross and his captivity, and we hope very
much that there might be able to be assistance with respect to that
issue,” Kerry said.
Gross, 64, was arrested in late 2009, after being accused of smuggling
sophisticated satellite and other telecommunications equipment to Cuba’s
tiny Jewish community. Gross has said he was only trying to increase
internet access in Cuba.
But he was convicted by a Cuban court in March 2011 of crimes “against
the independence and territorial integrity of the state” and sentenced
to 15 years behind bars. Cuba deems the U.S.-backed technological
The arrest hampered a brief and historically unusual period of detente
in U.S.-Cuba relations after President Barack Obama took office and
promptly eased restrictions on travel and remittances to the island for
Cuban-Americans with family in Communist Cuba.
Kerry — the first Catholic U.S. secretary of state in more than three
decades — visited the Vatican en route to Kuwait to hold talks with a
top aide to Pope Francis: Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
The Vatican has relatively healthy diplomatic ties to Cuba. Pope
Francis’ predecessors — Pope Benedict and the late Pope John Paul — both
made historic voyages to the country.
Source: Kerry appeals to Vatican to help free American jailed in Cuba –
World News –