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The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington has launched a nationwide online petition drive to garner thousands of signatures for the goal of securing the release of Alan Gross from Cuban prison on humanitarian grounds. The petition humbly appeals to Pope Benedict XVI to take the necessary efforts to obtain Alan Gross’ release during his upcoming visit to Cuba on March 26-28, 2012. The petition is located at: freealangrossnow.com.
Alan Gross, a resident of the DC Metropolitan Area, was arrested in Cuba in December 2009, while working with Cuba’s Jewish community to improve Internet access and to create an intranet. He has been incarcerated ever since. He languished in prison for over a year before he was finally charged by the Cuban government.
A Cuban court convicted him of “actions against the integrity of the State,” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Alan subsequently appealed his sentence to the Cuban Supreme Court, and the court reaffirmed the sentence, exhausting all of Alan’s legal remedies. His only avenue left is commutation of his sentence by Raul Castro, President of Cuba.
Alan and his supporters have fervently rejected all accusations that he did, or intended to, do anything to harm the Cuban government. Contrarily, his work in Cuba was intended to help the Cuban Jewish community improve its access to information through the Internet and intranet. The President of the United States, senior Administration officials, several high-ranking members of the United States Department of State, Members of Congress, international leaders, and newspaper editorials have all called for his immediate release.
The petition urges Alan’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds. Alan has lost approximately 100 pounds and is suffering from several ailments. Since his incarceration, his wife Judy has undergone surgery for an undisclosed medical issue and one of his two daughters was recently diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Alan’s 89-year-old mother is fighting inoperable lung cancer. His entire family fears they will never see him again.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) is the public affairs and community relations arms of the Jewish community representing over 100 Jewish organizations and synagogues throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia.