Reporting Meghan McCorkell
HAVANA (WJZ) — He’s been a prisoner in Cuba for two and a half years. Now Cuban officials are speaking out, saying they’re willing to negotiate the release of Maryland contractor Alan Gross.
Meghan McCorkell spoke with Gross’ wife, who’s lobbying to get her husband home.
Judy Gross just returned from visiting her husband, who’s serving a 15 year sentence in a Cuban prison. She is urging the U.S. and Cuba to come together without pre-conditions.
For more than two and a half years, Alan Gross has sat inside a Cuban prison cell.
“He looks like a concentration camp victim. He’s bony. His ribs are sticking out,” Judy Gross said.
Gross says her husband has lost 105 pounds since his arrest.
The Maryland contractor says he was on a humanitarian mission in Cuba to bring Internet service to a small Jewish community. Cuba says he’s a spy.
Now a Cuban diplomat says the country is ready to negotiate his release, but the U.S. hasn’t responded.
“We need the U.S. government to work harder and not stop working until Alan is home,” Gross said.
Havana-based CBS producer Portia Siegelbaum tells WJZ it’s clear why Cuba wants to come to
“They really do want a prisoner swap for these five Cuban intelligence agents,” she said.
Those spies, known as the Cuban five, were convicted of espionage in 2001. It’s a swap the U.S. may be unwilling to make.
“Alan Gross is, in effect, a hostage being held by the Cuban government for purpose of exchange…and I think that the United States felt that the price was too high,” said international law expert Mortimer Sellers.
Friends and family hold regular rallies outside the Cuban consulate in D.C., calling for Gross’ release. As the months wear on with no negotiations, Judy Gross says her husband tries to keep his spirits up.
“He feels like he’s been deserted. He wants to know where his country is,” she said.
She’ll keep fighting until he’s back with his family.
Next week, Judy Gross will be on Capitol Hill asking senators to sign a letter to Raul Castro asking for her husband’s release.
The family’s attorney has also filed a petition with the United Nations, which could add international pressure on Cuba to return Gross to the United States.