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March 12, 2012 1:48 pm

Jewish Leaders Appeal to Pope for Gross Release

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Alan Gross with his wife, Judy, in Jerusalem. Photo: Gross family.

Leaders of more than 40 Jewish organizations wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI requesting intervention on behalf of American contractor Alan Gross, who is being held as a prisoner in Cuba for trying to set up the country’s Jews with Internet access.

Gross was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. “Since his arrest two years ago, his health has deteriorated. He suffers from diabetes and has lost a great deal of weight. Moreover, his mother and daughter were diagnosed with cancer and the family is in financial straits,” the letter reads.

The Pope “has been an outspoken advocate for human rights and his voice carries great authority and significance,” said Richard Stone, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

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