The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Tuesday made public its opinion in the case of Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross, stating that Cuba’s detention of Gross is in fact arbitrary and calling for his immediate release.
Dec. 3, 2012 marked the three-year anniversary of Gross’s arrest. He was sentenced to a 15-year prison term for helping Cuba’s Jewish community access the Internet while he was a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Cuba convicted him of “crimes against the state.”
Gross was tried by Cuban courts that “did not exercise their function in an independent or impartial manner,” according to the UN working group.
“The tribunal should have granted Mr. Gross the benefit of being released on bail while awaiting trial, instead of keeping him in detention for more than 14 months,” the group said in its opinion.
Josefina Vidal—head of North American Affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry—had already revealed contents of the UN working group’s opinion on Gross in a press conference last month, but the opinion was not officially released until Tuesday.
Comprised of neutral experts from Chile, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal, and Ukraine, the UN working group issues opinions that are not binding or enforceable, but could still be significant, Gross’s attorney Jared Genser told JNS.org last October.
“Having an independent and impartial group in the United Nations saying that he’s been held in violation of international law provides a very strong political and public relations tool to put pressure on the government of Cuba to resolve the case,” Genser said.