The wife of a Jewish American jailed in Cuba took part in a rally aimed at freeing her husband on Monday outside the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC.

Participants in the protest called on the island nation to release Alan P. Gross, a Maryland native who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to “topple” the Cuban government.

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“I spoke with Alan two days ago. Never have I heard him more hopeless and depressed,” said his wife, Judy Gross. “His voice was fading away as he spoke. His spirit is almost broken.

He mentioned that he had gained five pounds, which considering that he lost 100 should have been a good thing. But, the reason he has gained the weight is because he is no longer able to walk because his arthritis has become too painful.”

Saturday will mark two years since Gross was arrested in Havana for bringing satellite phones into the country without permission. The 62-yearold says he was acting as a contractor on behalf of USAID and the phones were meant to set up a communications center for the local Jewish community.

In March 2011, a Cuban court found Gross guilty of subversion and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Observers have speculated Gross is being used as a bargaining chip by Cuba, which wants the US to release the Cuban Five, a ring of Cuban operatives jailed in the US. Last month, Gross’s wife launched a new and more aggressive phase in her campaign to free her husband at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, calling on gatherers to apply pressure on policy makers.

On Monday, she reiterated that call outside the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

“Please join us in the effort to keep Alan’s case top-of-mind with policymakers,” she said.

“Contact your congressmen and ask them to sign the Cardin and Van Hollen letter to the Cuban Interests Section.

Ask them to make a statement on the House floor this December 1. Tell everyone you know about Alan.”

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