Alexa

Bill Richardson seeks release of American in Cuba

 Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson smiles as he sits at an area outside a bar in the National hotel in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Ri...
 Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson smiles as he sits at an area outside a bar in the National hotel in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Ri...

Cuba US Imprisoned American

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson smiles as he sits at an area outside a bar in the National hotel in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Ri...

Cuba US Imprisoned American

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson smiles as he sits at an area outside a bar in the National hotel in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Ri...

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson arrived in Cuba on Wednesday to seek the freedom of a U.S. government subcontractor sentenced to 15 years in prison for bringing communications equipment to the island illegally.
It was the first sign that intensifying calls for Maryland-native Alan Gross' release might bear fruit after months of false hopes and bitter disappointment. A lawyer for Gross said Richardson made the trip at the invitation of the Cuban government.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Obama administration was aware of the trip and was in contact with Richardson.
"While Gov. Richardson is traveling as a private citizen, we certainly support his efforts to obtain Alan Gross' release," she said.
Richardson, who was staying at Havana's Nacional Hotel, told The Associated Press that he had no comment on what he hoped to accomplish during the visit.
Two senior officials in Havana who normally deal with U.S. issues told the AP they had no information, nor could they confirm that Cuba had invited the former governor.
Gross has been jailed since his arrest in December 2009.
Cuba says he was distributing satellite telephones and other communications equipment that are illegal to use without authorization, It also calls the USAID-funded democracy program that he was on a thinly veiled attempt at overthrowing Cuba's communist government
Gross has said he was only trying to help Cuba's tiny Jewish community improve Internet access as part of the USAID-funded democracy-building program.
A court convicted Gross of crimes against the Cuban state in March, and the decision was later upheld by the nation's Supreme Court, leaving the American with no legal recourse.
That has led to growing appeals for Gross' release on humanitarian grounds. Those who have met and spoken with him say Gross has lost 100 pounds while in custody, and both his elderly mother and adult daughter are suffering from cancer.
His continued imprisonment has become a major sticking point between Washington and Havana, dampening prospects for improving relations.
Peter J. Kahn, Gross' lawyer, welcomed Richardson's visit, which he said was undertaken at the invitation of Cuban authorities. He said he hoped it would lead to his client's freedom.
"We welcome any and all dialogue that ultimately will result in Alan's release," Kahn said in a statement on behalf of Gross' family. "We are grateful to Gov. Richardson for his continued efforts. We hope that the governor and Cuban authorities are able to find common ground that will allow us to be reunited as a family."
Two senior Cuban officials said they were unaware of the trip.
"I know nothing about it," Parliament Chief Ricardo Alarcon, normally a leading voice on issues concerning the United States, told the AP.
Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry's director of North American affairs, also said she had no information.
"I'm not up on that," she said.
___
Associated Press reporters Bradley Klapper in Washington and Anne-Maria Garcia in Havana contributed to this report.
___
http://www.twitter.com/paulhaven


Updated : 2021-02-27 14:15 GMT+08:00