Protesters Rally For Release Of Md. Man Being Held Prisoner In Cuba

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Alan Gross rally
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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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PALM BEACH, Fla. (WJZ) — The fight to free a Maryland man–locked in a Cuban prison–hits the streets of Florida.

Derek Valcourt has the latest on the ongoing efforts to free Alan Gross.

In Palm Beach, Fla. protesters rallied and held signs demanding the release of Baltimore native Alan Gross–who’s been locked in Cuban prison for nearly three years. The rally was held there on purpose.

Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra was performing just steps away. Gross’ wife Judy hopes American leaders are listening.

“I urge you to privately have an honest dialogue with the Cubans and to do whatever is necessary to secure Alan’s release,” said Judy Gross.

Alan Gross was convicted of spying on Cuba for the U.S. government, but all along he’s insisted that he was on a humanitarian mission to improve Internet access to the small Jewish community there.

“He feels like he’s been deserted,” she said.

Judy Gross says her husband’s imprisonment has taken a physical toll. Before and after photos show a dramatic difference in Gross’ weight and appearance. He’s already lost more than 100 pounds.

“He looks like a concentration camp victim. He’s bony… His ribs are sticking out,” she said.

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.”

But Gross is no closer to coming home to his family in Montgomery County, and with more than 12 years left on his sentence, his family worries he’ll waste away before that happens.

Gross has also developed a mass on his body that doctors say could be cancerous. Over the weekend, his lawyer wrote to the United Nations, arguing the denial of adequate medical care will surely amount to torture.

Also over the weekend, a group of 500 rabbis wrote to Cuba’s president. They are calling for Gross’ release on humanitarian grounds.

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