By Mike Hellgren

WASHINGTON (WJZ)— Fighting for freedom. There was a show of support Friday for the Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba.

Mike Hellgren reports from Washington, D.C., where many gathered to pressure Castro’s government for his release.

Hundreds of people showed up at a rally in Washington and another held simultaneously in New York. 

“God, deliver him from this bondage as unjust as it is,” said a supporter.

 They wanted their message heard around the world.

Supporters of Alan Gross gathered outside a Cuban government building in Washington, urging the Castro regime to free the U.S. aid worker and Baltimore native–whose health is failing along with his spirit–after losing all appeals for release.  He’s now serving a 15-year sentence for spying on Cuba.

“It gives me a lot of support,” said Judy Gross, Alan’s wife. “Alan is suffering every day–mentally, physically and spiritually.” 

Gross worked for a Maryland-based company, and says he was in Cuba to provide Internet access to the island’s Jewish community when he was arrested.

“I don’t know what point the Cuban government is trying to make, but they should understand the message they’re sending to the rest of the world,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen (D – Md.) “They fear freedom, and they refuse to do the humanitarian thing.” 

“He’s held as a hostage.  He’s not being held just because he brought a telephone and some Bibles,” said Irena Lasota, director of Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe.

“Alan’s been a personal friend of mine since 1987.  I’m here because I want to help get him out,” said Tom Herlehy, friend.

But high-level pleas to the Cuban government haven’t been able to do that, including from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and visits to Cuba by former President Carter and former Governor Bill Richardson.

“His only intention was to help the small Jewish communities in Cuba–nothing more,” Judy Gross said.

“If Alan could be here today, he would be overwhelmed with all your support,” she told supporters. 

There has been no response from the Cuban government on these rallies.


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