Jesse Jackson Appeals To Cuba To Release Maryland Native

HAVANA (AP) — The Reverend Jesse Jackson appealed to Cuba on Tuesday to release an American contractor facing a possible 20-year sentence on charges of trying to undermine the government, saying granting him freedom on humanitarian grounds could open the door for better relations.

Jackson offered to come to Cuba to mediate the release of Alan Gross, a 61-year-old Maryland native held since December 2009.

Gross, who was working for USAID when he was arrested, is set to go on trial Friday on charges of “acts against the integrity and independence” of Cuba.

Gross’s family and the U.S. government say he was in Cuba handing out communications equipment to the island’s small Jewish community, though Jewish leaders in Cuba have said they had nothing to do with him.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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