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12/03/13 - Los Angeles Times - Family releases letter from US man imprisoned in Cuba 

Calling the former Maryland resident a forgotten casualty of Cold War-era
animosities between Cuba and the United States, a group of Gross'
supporters rallied Tuesday near the White House, marking the anniversary
of his fourth year in a Havana jail and calling on President Obama to
facilitate his release.

With the White House behind her, Gross' wife, Judy, fought back tears while
describing her husband's ordeal to a group of nearly 100 people gathered in
Lafayette Park. "Alan has been fading away in a tiny prison cell in Havana,
Cuba," she said. "He is in his cell 23 hours a day. He is in chronic pain
and has lost 100 pounds. But by far the worst is that he is losing his
spirit."

The U.S. has repeatedly called for Gross' freedom, but the requests have
been largely ignored by Cuba. In the letter delivered Tuesday to the White
House, Alan Gross called for Obama's "personal involvement."

Gross, 64, went to Cuba five times with a tourist visa as part of a U.S.
Agency for International Development program to promote democracy. He was
arrested Dec. 3, 2009, and eventually convicted of providing the small
Cuban Jewish community with unauthorized satellite phones and Internet
equipment. Accused by Cuban authorities of spying for the U.S., Gross was
sentenced to 15 years in prison.

"The idea that he committed acts of espionage against Cuba would be
laughable if the results of this ridiculous notion were not so tragic,"
said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations
Council of Greater Washington. "Alan is a pawn, and now a victim, in a
dysfunctional relationship between the United States and Cuba."

Cuba in the past offered to release Gross in exchange for the release of
five Cuban spies who were imprisoned in the U.S.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in April that the U.S. had refused
such a trade "because there is no equivalency."

"Alan Gross is wrongly imprisoned," Kerry said before the [4]House Foreign
Affairs Committee in April. "We are trying to work this out on a
humanitarian basis. We are not going to trade as if it is a spy for a spy,
which they are trying to allege."

One of the five prisoners, René González, was released in 2011 and returned
to Cuba this year.

Gross' incarceration is "an impediment to more constructive relations"
between the U.S. and Cuba, White House Press Secretary [5]Jay Carney said
Tuesday. He said Obama had personally engaged foreign leaders about
advocating for Gross' release.



Original Source / Fuente Original:
http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-cuba-prisoner-alan-gross-20131203,0,4185116.story


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