BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fighting to free a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba. A group of U.S. lawmakers has just returned from a face-to-face meeting with prisoner Alan Gross in his Cuban jail.
Meghan McCorkell spoke with members of that delegation.
Those lawmakers met with Alan Gross for about an hour and a half Monday. They say he is still hopeful he’ll come home soon.
For five years, 65-year-old Alan Gross has sat in a Cuban jail cell. The Maryland international aid worker is serving 15 years after he was accused of spying as he was setting up Internet services for the Jewish community in Havana.
“He’s ready to come home, that’s for sure,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks, part of a delegation that traveled to Cuba to try and push for Gross’ release. “Over and over, he said he wanted to make sure this would be his last year at maximum.”
Congressman Sam Farr says Gross got trapped in the middle of a political battle.
“He did get stuck. He feels very much that he’s a pawn. He’s been kidnapped in a sense,” said Representative Sam Farr.
Cuba had initially wanted to exchange Gross for the release of the Cuban Five, five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in 2001. But the delegation says Cuba’s foreign minister has now assured them Cuba will come to the table without preconditions.
“I’ve frankly come back a little critical of our own administration who says they are working on it but according to Cubans, there isn’t much that they’re hearing,” Farr said.
Lawmakers have been pushing for the White House to intervene. In November, a group of 66 senators signed a letter to the president calling for him to take whatever steps are in the national interest to free Gross.
Now the delegation wants a serious commitment from both sides so that Gross can reunite with his family.
Gross turned 65 in prison last Friday. He’s promised he won’t spend another birthday behind bars.
Earlier this month, the State Department released a statement saying Gross’ detention “remains an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba.”
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