Wife of imprisoned USAID subcontractor, Alan Gross, Calls on US Government to 'End This Nightmare'
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
HAVANA, Cuba – Judy Gross, the wife of imprisoned American Alan Gross, called today for the US government to do whatever it takes to bring her husband home, saying that she is worried he will “do something drastic” if he is left in prison.
“If we can trade five members of the Taliban to bring home one American soldier, surely we can figure out a path forward to bring home one American citizen from a Cuban prison,” Judy Gross said after visiting her husband.
Last week, Alan Gross’s mother, 92-year-old Evelyn Gross, died following a four-year battle with lung cancer. The Cuban government refused to grant a humanitarian furlough for Alan to see his mother one last time before she died, and it refused to grant one for Alan to attend his mother’s funeral, which took place Friday.
“I am extremely worried that Alan is going to do something drastic now that his mother is gone,” said Judy Gross. “My husband and I need President Obama to do everything in his power to end this nightmare and bring Alan home from Cuba now.”
Alan Gross was working as a subcontractor for the US Agency for International Development, which is part of the State Department, when he went to Cuba to help bring greater Internet access to the Jewish community. He was arrested and imprisoned four and a half years ago and sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to undermine the Cuban government.
Since his imprisonment, Alan Gross has suffered immeasurable harm. He has lost more than 100 pounds in prison and he is kept in a small cell for 23 hours a day. He is losing the vision in his right eye and both of his hips are failing. In April, he staged a nine-day hunger strike to protest both the U.S. and Cuban governments’ refusal to resolve his continued detention. At the request of his mother, Gross dropped the hunger strike and began eating again.
“I am extremely worried that Alan is becoming more despondent every day,” said Scott Gilbert, the attorney representing Alan and Judy Gross. “Both governments need to know that Alan plans to end his life in an effort to end this agony.”
“Our hope is that the United States government will recognize that no American deserves to be left behind, whether a soldier or a subcontractor like Alan, who was in Cuba on a US government mission,” Gilbert said.
Mother of imprisoned USAID subcontractor, Alan Gross, dies Cuban officials refused pleas to allow him to see his mother one last time
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Evelyn Gross, 92, died June 18 in Plano, Texas after a long battle with lung cancer. Her son, Alan, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been imprisoned in Cuba for the last four and a half years.
Evelyn Gross’s last wish was to see her son before she died. Cuban officials refused to give Alan a humanitarian furlough to visit his mother, despite repeated pleas and the certainty that she was dying. She was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago, after Alan had been arrested and imprisoned because of his work for the US government.
“This is a devastating blow for Alan and our family,” said Judy Gross, Alan’s wife. “I am extremely worried that now Alan will give up all hope of ever coming home and do something drastic. Surely, there must be something President Obama can do to secure Alan’s immediate release.”
In April, Alan went on a hunger strike to protest both governments’ failure to resolve his situation and allow him to return home to the United States. At his mother’s urging, Alan stopped the hunger strike after nine days.
Alan was extremely close to his mother, said Judy Gross. Before his arrest, he spoke to her by phone twice a day, she said.
Evelyn Gross is survived by her two children, Alan Gross and Bonnie Rubinstein of Plano, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Alan Gross is a 65-year-old American citizen who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009. He was arrested for his work on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase Internet access and connectivity in Cuba’s small Jewish community.
After serving four-and-a-half years of a 15-year prison sentence, Alan’s health, and perhaps even his life, are in danger. He has lost over 100 pounds, he suffers from chronic pain, and he is in jeopardy of losing his will to survive.
In May, as Alan turned 65, he told his attorney, Scott Gilbert, that this would be the last birthday he would spend in prison. He said he was determined to come home, alive or dead.
Alan lives in a small prison cell 23 hours a day with two other inmates. Until recently, prison officials kept the lights on in the cell 24 hours a day.
Alan Gross Marks 65th Birthday and 1,612 Days in Cuban Prison Cell, Vows to Leave Cuba One Way or the Other
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Friday, May 2 marks USAID subcontractor Alan Gross’ 65th birthday. It also marks his 1,612th day spent in in a Cuban prison cell. Over the past 1,612 days, Gross has lost more than 110 pounds and been confined to a small cell 23 hours a day. Facing another 11 years in prison, Gross has stated unequivocally that this will be the last birthday he spends in prison. During a recent meeting with his attorney, Alan Gross vowed to leave Cuba, dead or alive, before spending yet another year under armed guard.
To demonstrate his frustration with the lack of progress between the U.S. and Cuban governments, Gross recently completed a nine-day hunger strike and called for President Obama to get personally involved in ending his imprisonment.
“Our family has spent over five years suffering through Alan’s arrest, trial and imprisonment. He’s been ripped from our family, he has been unable to be there for us to deal with serious illnesses, and he has completely missed out on family gatherings, birthdays and our oldest daughter’s wedding,” said his wife, Judy Gross. “As he marks his 65th birthday tomorrow, I worry he will not be able to carry on much longer. After years of inaction, I’m imploring President Obama to intervene personally on Alan’s behalf and bring him home to our family.”
“After visiting Alan last week, it has become clear that we’ve reached a critical point with regard to his health and emotional well-being,” said Scott Gilbert, Alan’s attorney. “It is time for the President and his administration to demonstrate some leadership and engage with the Cuban government to secure Alan’s release and safe return to his family.”
Gross was arrested during his fifth trip to Cuba on behalf of USAID, whose projects are illegal there. He was sent to Cuba by USAID to help the Jewish community in Havana increase access to the Internet. Last month, the Associated Press revealed that USAID created a "Cuban Twitter" program called ZunZuneo shortly after Gross was arrested in Havana. Gross has complained that the ZunZuneo program further endangered his already perilous situation.
Following hunger strike, Alan Gross vows to leave Cuba one way or another
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
HAVANA - Alan Gross, the 64-year-old USAID subcontractor who has spent nearly four-and-a-half years in a Cuban prison, said he plans to return home to the United States, whether alive or dead.
Gross recently spent nine days on a hunger strike to protest both the Cuban and American governments that have left him in limbo, facing 11 more years on his prison sentence. He was particularly frustrated that USAID undertook the ZunZuneo "Cuban Twitter" program shortly after his arrest and imprisonment, further endangering his situation here.
"On May 2nd, I turn 65-years-old and it will be my last birthday here," said a frail Gross. "It means what it means. It's not a threat, it's a statement of hope, a statement of determination and a statement of impatience."
Gross was arrested and imprisoned for his work on behalf of USAID to bring Internet access to the Jewish community in Havana. Since his imprisonment, he has lost more than 110 pounds. He is kept under guard in a small cell with two other inmates and the lights are on 24 hours a day. He has lost partial vision in his right eye and suffers from pain in both hips and in his back.
At the four-year anniversary of his imprisonment, Gross wrote to President Obama and asked him to get personally involved in bringing him home to the U.S.
From prison, Gross said, "I'm now eligible for Medicare, but what I want is Presidential care. I want the President to care."
Gross's attorney, Scott Gilbert, spent nearly two hours Wednesday meeting with Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to discuss Alan Gross's situation.
Rodriguez reiterated his government's interest in having high-level officials meet with their U.S. counterparts to discuss terms of a resolution. Rodriguez emphasized that Cuba would place no pre-conditions on such a negotiation.
Press Release: USAID Contractor Alan Gross Begins Hunger Strike From Havana Prison Calls for Resolution of "Shameful Ordeal"
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Washington, D.C. - Alan Gross, the USAID subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba for the last four years and four months, launched a hunger strike last week protesting the inhumane treatment to which he has been subjected, calling on both countries to "resolve this shameful ordeal" so he can return home.
Said Gross: "I began a fast on April 3rd in protest of the treatment to which I am subjected by the governments of Cuba and the United States. I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal. Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters."
Last week, the Associated Press revealed that USAID created a "Cuban Twitter" program called ZunZuneo shortly after Gross was arrested in Havana. During an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds USAID, called the program "dumb" and said that covert operations should not be conducted through USAID. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will testify today before Leahy's subcommittee.
Scott Gilbert, the lead attorney representing Gross, said that USAID's actions with ZunZuneo put Gross's life in greater jeopardy.
"Once Alan was arrested, it is shocking that USAID would imperil his safety even further by running a covert operation in Cuba," said Gilbert. "USAID has made one absurdly bad decision after another. Running this program is contrary to everything we have been told by high-level representatives of the Obama Administration about USAID’s activities in Cuba.”
Since Gross, 64, was arrested and imprisoned, he has lost more than 110 pounds. He is confined to a small cell with two other prisoners for 23 hours a day, and the lights remain on 24 hours a day. He is in failing health. He faces another 11 years in prison.
Gross was arrested during his fifth trip to Cuba on behalf of USAID. He was sent there to help the Jewish community in Havana gain access to the Internet, which the Cuban government declared unlawful.
Gross's wife, Judy, said she fears that her husband will not be able to endure his confinement much longer. "I've been begging our government for more than four years to bring Alan home," said Judy Gross. "I'm worried sick about Alan's health, and I don't think he can survive much more of this."
Bill O'Reilly discussed Alan's case on the Wednesday, December 4, 2013 edition of The O'Reilly Factor.
Al Jazeera America
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The following story aired on Al Jazeera America on December 4, 2013:
CNN The Situation Room
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
CNN's Wolf Blitzer discussed Alan's case on The Situation Room on December 3, 2013. Here is the full clip:
Why Won’t the U.S. Help Alan Gross?
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Four years ago this week, Alan Gross, then a 60-year-old subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was arrested by Cuban security agents at his Havana hotel. Gross remains in prison to this day, with more than a decade left on his 15-year sentence for committing “acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state.