Reporting Mike Hellgren
WASHINGTON (WJZ)– Desperate to free him, the family of a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba is turning up the pressure.
Mike Hellgren reports there are fears Alan Gross could die behind bars.
Gross’ wife hopes that public pressure will help free her husband from Cuba.
“Because of his humanitarian work, Alan is sitting in a jail cell today,” she said.
Judy Gross spoke to hundreds of members of the Jewish Federation of America telling them to press Congress and the Cuban government for the release of her husband from a Cuban prison.
Alan Gross was working for a Maryland-based contractor providing internet access to Havana’s Jewish community when he was convicted of spying and locked up.
“It’s beyond any sense of reason. It’s inhumane and it’s unjust,” Judy Gross said.
The Cuban government has not been swayed by visits from high-profile diplomats and concerns over Alan Gross’ deteriorating health. Talks stalled when the Cubans demanded the release of five of their citizens imprisoned for spying in the United States.
“At no point has the U.S. government been willing to give unilateral concessions to the Castro regime, or to ease sanctions as a means to secure Mr. Gross’ release,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Alan Gross’ family lives in Maryland. Supporters have begun holding weekly vigils and protests against the Cuban government.
“We need him to come home,”said Alan Gross’ sister-in-law Gwen Zuares. “He’s done nothing wrong, and I’m here to show my solidarity.”
“Alan’s only intention was to help the small communities in Cuba. Nothing more,” said his wife.
Alan Gross is serving a 15-year sentence.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin made Alan Gross’ release a major issue at appointment hearings for a new assistant secretary of state. He said he received assurances that freeing Gross would be a priority for the State Department.