In response to The Post’s forceful editorial calling for the release of Alan P. Gross from imprisonment in Cuba [“An American hostage in Havana,” Aug. 13], one Aug. 17 letter writer said that Mr. Gross is a victim of “the never-ending chess game with the Castros’ regime,” while another accused him of trying “to smuggle satellite equipment, illegal in Cuba, into that country.”

As the editorial correctly pointed out, Mr. Gross’s “so-called crime” was “furnishing a handful of poor Cuban Jews with equipment to connect to the Internet . . . a garden-variety customs infraction.” Accordingly he should not be treated as a pawn in any chess game, and he surely should not be facing 15 years in prison along with his own ill health and that of his family back home for trying to bring an isolated community into contact with the rest of the world.  Even those of us who might favor relaxation of U.S. relations with Cuba will not support such a move while Mr. Gross continues to be an American hostage in Havana.

Daniel Mann, Bethesda