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12/04/13 -  ABC News Radio - John Kerry on Alan Gross

 (WASHINGTON)  

Tuesday marks the fourth year that Alan Gross, a 64-year-old former USAID
subcontractor, has been imprisoned in Cuba for his USAID work, deemed
illegal by the Cuban government.

As The Washington Post reported Tuesday morning, Gross has sent a letter to
President Obama, through the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, detailing
the poor conditions of his detention, expressing fears the U.S. government
has abandoned him, and asking President Obama for help.

One paragraph reads:

    As I reflect on these last four years, I find myself asking the same
question - why? Why am I still here? With the utmost respect, Mr.
President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving
when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me. Officials in your
administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional
release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home.

Gross goes on to plead for help for other Americans held prisoner abroad -
a topic that's been in the news lately, as the U.S. seeks the release of
Merrill Newman and Kenneth Bae from North Korea, and Robert Levinson from
Iran.

At a press conference in Brussels Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry
was asked about Gross's letter - and about other Americans held overseas.
The U.S. has persistently sought their release through back-channels, Kerry
said.

"These things are often best resolved in quiet diplomacy, under the radar
screen, behind the scenes, and that is exactly what we have been pursuing,"
Kerry said. "And when, in fact, we secure their release, the track record
of those outreaches and those initiatives will speak for themselves as to
how much effort and energy has been put into trying to secure their
release."

During Tuesday's news conference, Kerry also spoke of Alan Gross.

    KERRY: In the case of Mr. Gross, we've had any number of initiatives
and outreaches over the last several years and engagement with a number of
different individuals who have traveled to Cuba, met with people
individually there and elsewhere. And we are currently engaged in some
discussions regarding that, which I'm not at liberty to go into in any kind
of detail.

    But the bottom line is we have raised these issues not just in Korea -
North Korea - not just in Cuba, but also with respect to a number of
Americans who are held in Iran. And I have personally raised those names
and those individuals with my counterpart as well as in other ways. And we
are hopeful that in each case, at some point we will be able to win their
freedom and have them rejoined with their families.

    One day is too long to be in captivity, and one day for any American
citizen is more than any American wants to see somebody endure. This has
been too long in every case, and we will do everything we can and continue
to. But these things are often best resolved in quiet diplomacy, under the
radar screen, behind the scenes, and that is exactly what we have been
pursuing.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio  


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