Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has asked Pope Benedict XVI to intercede in the case of Alan Gross, the U.S. contracter who's been imprisoned in Cuba for more than two years.
Nelson wrote the pope Wednesday in advance of the papal visit to Cuba later this month. The pope is scheduled to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, and Nelson asked the pope to intercede with the Cuban government.
"These are especially challenging political and economic times; and, it is my hope that you might be able to bring about a compassionate resolution in this case," Nelson wrote.
Last month, one of the Cuba's best-known political dissidents told Congress that the pope should use his power and visibility as a world leader to shine a light on human rights abuses and political oppression under the Castro regime during his upcoming visit to the communist island nation.
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in testimony delivered over the telephone from Cuba that if he has an opportunity to meet with the pope, he will ask him to be an advocate for the oppressed,
Gross has served two years of a 15-year sentence on a charge of endangering the island’s national security by delivering sophisticated telecommunications equipment to Cuban Jews so they could access the Internet more easily. The Obama administration has repeatedly urged Cuba to free Gross as a humanitarian gesture. Cuba has said it wants a similar U.S. gesture toward five Cuban spies convicted in Miami as part of the "Wasp Network."