The United States called on Monday for the immediate release of an American contractor jailed for the past four years in Cuba, saying his continued captivity on the communist-ruled island was "gravely disappointing."
"Tomorrow, development worker Alan Gross will begin a fifth year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba," the US State Department said in a statement.
"It is gravely disappointing, especially in light of its (Cuba's) professed goal of providing Cubans with Internet access, that the Cuban government has not allowed Mr. Gross to return to his family, where he belongs."
Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, for his work on a semi-covert US program promoting political change on the island. Cuba has said it considered the work to be subversive.
Gross said he was in Cuba to set up communications equipment to give unrestricted Internet access to Jewish groups. A judge said that activity was a crime against the Cuban state and sentenced Gross to 15 years behind bars.
Gross's wife, Judy, will hold a vigil in Washington's Lafayette Park, across from the White House, at midday on Tuesday to press for help from President Barack Obama to win her husband's release, a lawyer for the Gross family told Reuters.
The vigil would be led by Jewish Council leaders and was to include the broadcast of a video recording from Gross, who has personally written to the president seeking his intervention in the case, said the lawyer, Scott Gilbert.
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