U.S. urges Cuba to free prisoner
WASHINGTON — The United States called on Havana to release American Alan Gross on Monday, as the State Department contractor marked his third year in a Cuban prison for distributing laptops and satellite phones.
Gross, 63, was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, and later sentenced to 15 years “for simply facilitating communications between Cuba's Jewish community and the rest of the world,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Cuba “should release Alan Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs,” said Toner, decrying Gross' “unjustified imprisonment.”
Washington wants Cuba to at least allow Gross to travel to the United States to visit his 90-year-old mother, Evelyn Gross, “who is gravely ill. This is a humanitarian issue,” Toner said.
Toner said that Gross has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest and suffers “from severe degenerative arthritis that affects his mobility, and other health problems.”
Cuba said last week that Gross is in “normal” health, and medical tests show he does not have cancer, as his family feared. The weight loss was because of voluntary exercise and a balanced diet that “has allowed him to get rid of his formerly obese condition,” the Cuban report said.
Washington and Gross' wife, Judith, however, want a doctor of their choosing to examine the prisoner.
President Obama “has followed Mr. Gross' case with concern, and he urges Mr. Gross' release,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Judith Gross has been critical of Washington's efforts to win her husband's release, calling it “totally negligent.”
At the same time, she said, “I'm very angry at the Cubans for arresting him and sending him to jail. It's all about teaching the United States a lesson.”
Washington and Havana, former Cold War foes, have been at odds for more than half a century and lack full diplomatic relations.
Cuba has made it clear that it is ready to negotiate Gross' release in exchange for the release of five captured Cuban spies held in the United States.
The Cubans were arrested in 1998 and found guilty in 2001 of trying to infiltrate military installations in South Florida. They received prison terms ranging from 15 years to life.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- VA Phoenix social worker on leave for Halloween costume
- Email address gives FBI lead on record theft of user IDs, passwords
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- U.S. troops suspended in airstrike on Afghan hospital
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- N.H. prep grad to appeal sex assault verdict
- Video prompts calls for probe of Chicago police