Reporting Derek Valcourt
HAVANA (WJZ) — The wife of a Maryland man some say was unjustly imprisoned in Cuba worries her husband will not survive his 15-year sentence. Judy Gross just returned from a four-day visit to see her husband Alan in a prison cell in Cuba. As Derek Valcourt explains, she says his health is rapidly deteriorating.
So far, the 1,013 days Baltimore native Alan Gross has spent locked up inside a Cuban prison has taken a physical toll. Before and after photos on a website devoted to his release show the dramatic difference in his weight and appearance. He was convicted of spying on Cuba for the US government, but all along, he’s insisted he was on a humanitarian mission to improve internet access for the small Jewish community there.
“I’m getting more hopeless all the time,” Judy Gross said.
This summer, she spoke to WJZ about her husband’s imprisonment. Now she’s just back from visiting him in prison and reports his health continues to deteriorate. She says he has lost 105 pounds and developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade.
“While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal,” she said.
But Cuba’s president has not wavered despite numerous protests, visits from high-profile diplomats and pressure from the Obama administration.
“We call on the government of Cuba to release him,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But Gross is no closer to coming home to his family in Montgomery County, including his terminally ill mother, Evelyn. And with more than 12 years left on his sentence, his family worries he’ll waste away before that happens.
“One of my biggest fears is I’m going to get a call from my attorney one day saying Alan had a heart attack or something happened to him. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. I don’t know if he’ll set foot on US soil,” she said.
Attorneys for Alan Gross here in the US have also filed an urgent petition with the United Nations, asking them to find his continuing imprisonment in Cuba a violation of international law. Click here to read that petition.
Gross’ family has pleaded with the Cuban president for a humanitarian release so he can visit his dying mother. That request has not been granted but Gross has been allowed to make phone calls and receive visits from his wife.