American Jailed in Cuba Pleads With Obama for Help

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 09:38 PM

By Amy Woods

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An American behind bars in Cuba for the last four years wrote to President Barack Obama asking for the commander-in-chief's personal help – and Obama obliged, The Hill reported Tuesday.

In an effort to secure the release of U.S. Agency for International Development worker Alan Gross, Obama lobbied foreign leaders and talked with international figures," White House officials say.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was not confirmed that Obama had seen the letter, which said in part, "It is clear to me, Mr. President, that only with your personal involvement can my release be secured."

"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," Carney said. "They have also engaged a wide range of foreign counterparts, and urged them to advocate for Mr. Gross' release."

Gross was jailed in 2009 after helping a small community of Jews gain access to the Internet. Cuban officials arrested him, and a Cuban court gave him a 15-year prison sentence, The Miami Herald reported.

In his letter to Obama, Gross pleads for the United States not to abandon him.

"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. 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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