The wife of Alan Gross, a U.S. subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba for alleged acts against the state, says her husband feels "abandoned" by the United States.
"He's not doing so well. He's lost 100 pounds, he's in chronic pain from arthritis, and he's losing his hope . . . He really now worries that he might not come back from Cuba alive," Judy Gross told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"President Obama needs to get personally involved in getting Alan out of Cuba. He needs to make this his project, his personal involvement," she said Wednesday.
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Cuban authorities arrested Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, in 2009 after he allegedly delivered equipment to three Jewish community groups on the island in an attempt to break the Cuban government's "information blockade," The Washington Post reported
He was charged with illegally distributing prohibited satellite communications equipment to dissidents — charges he denies — and in 2011 was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the White House received a letter from Gross that had been sent through the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, in which he pleaded directly with President Barack Obama to personally intervene in his case.
"He basically said that he feels like he's been abandoned," Judy Gross told Malzberg. "He was hired and working for a U.S. government project, and he has not heard anything from his government.
"He feels totally abandoned and forgotten by his country and by his government," she said.
"My hope is that the government is able to sit down and start talks and negotiate with the Cuban government. That's how you start getting things done. You have to sit down sometime and start dialogue."
In reaction to Gross' letter, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that he was not sure whether Obama had read the letter, but that the "State Department has kept Mr. Gross' case at the forefront of discussions with the Cuban government and made clear the importance the United States places on his welfare."
"They have also engaged a wide range of foreign counterparts, and urged them to advocate for Mr. Gross' release," Carney said.
In his letter, Gross wrote that his imprisonment has taken its toll on his loved ones, leading to the sale of his family home in Maryland, and that both his wife and daughter are stricken with cancer.
"I know that your administration and prior administrations have taken extraordinary steps to obtain the release of other U.S. citizens imprisoned abroad – even citizens who were not arrested for their work on behalf of their country," Gross wrote.
"I ask that you also take action to secure my release, for my sake and for the sake of my family," Gross wrote. "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."
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