On the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Alan Gross in Cuba, his wife urged the U.S. government to secure his release, and the White House said it remained committed to freeing him.
“Enough is enough,” Judy Gross said in a statement. “My husband has paid a terrible price for serving his country and community. Alan is resolved that he will not endure another year imprisoned in Cuba, and I am afraid that we are at the end.”
Gross, 65, grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and lived in Potomac. He was helping Cuba’s small Jewish community connect to the Internet when he was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009.
It was his fifth trip to the communist nation while working for a Bethesda-based contractor to the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was convicted of crimes against the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Since his imprisonment, his mother has died and one of his daughters was diagnosed with breast cancer. Several current and former U.S. and foreign officials have appealed to President Raul Castro and the Cuban government for his release.
Supporters say Gross has lost 100 pounds and several teeth in prison, is losing eyesight, suffers debilitating pain and says he will not endure another year in prison. He has refused to meet with the new head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
“After five years of literally wasting away, Alan is done,” Judy Gross said. “It is time for President Obama to bring Alan back to the United States now; otherwise it will be too late.”
Sens.Barbara Mikulski, Ben Cardin and Reps. John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen all issued statements to mark the anniversary and push for Gross’ release.
Van Hollen, Gross’s former representative, said he has raised Gross’ case with President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro.
Van Hollen visited Gross last year and has remained in contact with him by telephone.
“For five years, Alan and his family have paid an enormous personal price,” Van Hollen said in a statement. He saidCuba was “missing an important opportunity to begin to reshape its relations with the United States.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administraiton “remains focused on securing Alan’s freedom from a Cuban prison, and returning him safely to his wife and children, where he belongs.”
“We remain deeply concerned for Alan’s health, and reiterate our call for his release,” he said in a statement. “The Cuban Government’s release of Alan on humanitarian grounds would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba.”