Kudos to New York Times reporters Ginger Thompson and Marc Lacey, whose Jan. 12 story identifies the man as Alan P. Gross, "a 60-year-old social worker from the Washington suburbs who had gone to Cuba to provide communications equipment to Jewish nonprofit organizations."
U.S. officials told the Times that Gross "was not involved in any activities that posed a violent threat to the Cuban government. And they flatly dispute any allegations that he is a spy."
Cuban authorities accuse Gross of having links to U.S. intelligence services.
The Washington Post followed the New York Times story, calling the arrest of Gross:
the clearest sign yet of a chill between Washington and Havana, after an initial warming under the Obama administration.Cuban officials detained Gross on Dec. 4. The Post said Gross was part of a controversial pro-democracy program aimed at breaking the Cuban government's "information blockade." The Post quoted Bob Rourke, a longtime Gross friend, as saying:
It was probably pure naiveness, innocence -- not seeing anything wrong with what he was doing. He's definitely not a shrewd, calculating person. He's someone who genuinely gets into situations because he thinks he can help.The Post describes Gross as an international development expert from Potomac. The paper said:
Sources familiar with Gross's work said he was helping Cubans download music, access Wikipedia and read the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was provided on flash drives. The project is also aimed at helping members of the small Cuban Jewish community communicate among themselves and with Jews overseas, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.Gross worked for Development Alternatives Inc. Company president James Boomgard said in a statement that Gross was aiding "a nonviolent, non-dissident religious organization." According to the Post, the statement said:
Alan is a social worker by training and a dedicated international development professional with 25 years of experience delivering humanitarian assistance to people in some 50 countries around the world.The newspaper said the jailed man and his wife, Judy, have two daughters. The wife said in a statement that it has been "a difficult time for our family. We are grateful for the support and prayers that we have received for the safe and speedy return of our husband and father."
Google turns up a listings for a company called A.P. Gross & Company Inc.:
Address: POB 60013, Potomac, MD, 20859, United StatesThe www.apgross.com Web site is no longer active.
Telephone:+301 299 6015
Fax:+301 229 6287
Another listing shows this address, below:
A.P. Gross & Company, Inc.
Business and Economic Development
10812 Pebble Brook Lane
Potomac Maryland 20854-2563
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It appears that Alan and Judy Gross are active in the Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community of Greater Washington.
Along the Malecon's U.S.-Cuba relations page
Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page