Cuba says no case yet against jailed American
By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA -- Cuba has yet to open a legal case against a U.S. government
contractor from Maryland nearly six months after he was arrested as a
suspected spy, the head of the island's high court said Wednesday.
Alan P. Gross was detained Dec. 3 at Havana's Jose Marti International
Airport and has been held without charge at the capital's high-security
Villa Marista prison ever since.
Formal charges cannot be filed in Cuba without a judicial accusation and
the opening of a court case, so it appears unlikely charges against
Gross are imminent even as he approaches a half-year in custody.
It is rare for suspects to be held for extended periods in Cuba without
charges or even a case being opened. But Supreme Court President Ruben
Remigio said Wednesday that "there still is not a case related to this
matter" and he did not know whether prosecutors were working on one.
"The courts receive cases when cases are presented," Remigio added,
speaking on the sidelines of an international legal conference in
western Havana. "When they aren't presented, we don't have a case."
The general in charge of investigations for the Interior Ministry
attended the same event but declined to comment.
Gross, a 60-year-old native of Potomac, Maryland, came to Cuba as part
of a little-known program funded by the U.S. Agency for International
President Raul Castro and the speaker of Cuba's parliament allege Gross
was distributing banned satellite communications equipment and say his
capture proves Washington is still out to topple their communist government.
The U.S. State Department has countered for months that Gross is no spy
and should be released immediately.
A Washington-based spokeswoman for his family said they had no comment
Wednesday. Gross' wife, Judy, previously said he is a veteran
development worker who was helping Cuba's Jewish community use the
Internet to communicate among themselves and with similar groups abroad.
She says her husband brought communications equipment intended for
humanitarian purposes, not for use by Cuba's small dissident community.
Satellite phones and other telecommunications materials are outlawed in
this country, where the government maintains strict control over
Internet access and the media.
Officials from the U.S. Interest Section, which Washington maintains in
Havana instead of an embassy, have been granted three consular visits to
see Gross in prison, but have been otherwise largely silent on the matter.
Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton, raised the case in March during a meeting with Cuban Foreign
Minister Bruno Rodriguez during a U.N. conference on aid for Haiti.
Also pressing for Gross' release was Craig Kelly, deputy assistant
secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, who became the
highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Cuba in years when he came here
for immigration talks in February.