On Third Anniversary, Freedom House Reiterates Call for Release of U.S. Contractor Alan Gross
On the third anniversary of the unjust detention of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, Freedom House reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release.
Gross was arrested in December 2009 while helping to bring internet access to Cuba’s Jewish community. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “acts against the independence and territorial integrity” of the state and participating in “subversive U.S. government activities designed to destroy the Revolution.” Gross faced a closed-door trial, during which he was denied access to a lawyer. Since entering prison, he has lost 100 pounds and suffered from serious health issues, including a potentially cancerous tumor that his family says is not being properly treated.
As part of its latest wave of repression, in the past few months Cuba has arbitrarily detained hundreds of citizens for peacefully advocating for Cuba to meet international human rights obligations, including activist Antonio Rodiles, who was arbitrarily detained for 19 days. This week, several human rights defenders were brutally beaten, including 15- year old Arlet Verenise Héctor González, who is related to several members of the group Ladies in White.
Gross’ imprisonment and recent attempts by the Cuban government to silence activists are emblematic of Cuba’s systematic efforts to thwart freedom of information and other fundamental freedoms, and intimidate the international community from continuing to support Cuba’s pro-democracy movement.
Freedom House consistently places Cuba among the world’s most repressive societies, rating the country as Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012. The island nation also received the second-lowest ranking in Freedom on the Net 2012, a study of internet freedom in 47 countries.
Freedom in the World 2012: Cuba
Freedom of the Press 2012: Cuba
Freedom on the Net 2012: Cuba
Blog: Freedom at Issue