alan gross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
On the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment in Cuba, Alan Gross, an American
Jew, has written to President Barack Obama asking him to intercede with Havana
on his behalf.
Gross, who was arrested in 2009 while working as a
contractor for USAID, was jailed for allegedly working as an agent for American
He was arrested while distributing satellite phones and
other banned communications technologies to members of Cuba’s small Jewish
“I came to Cuba on behalf of the United States, as a
sub-contractor on an official United States Agency for International Development
project to increase Internet access in small communities across Cuba,” Gross
wrote in his letter, dated December 3.
Describing his conditions, Gross
said he has been confined for 23 hours a day in a small cell with two other
inmates and that he doesn’t “sleep much, between my arthritis and the lights in
my cell,” which are on around the clock.
“Why am I still here?” he asked
in the message.
“With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my
government – the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare – has
abandoned me. 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. Only with your personal involvement can my release be
secured,” he wrote to Obama.
“There are countless Americans all over the
world, some serving in uniform, others serving in diplomatic or civilian
capacities, still others private citizens studying or traveling abroad, and they
must not harbor any doubt that if they are taken captive in a foreign land, our
government will move heaven and earth to secure their freedom,” Gross
“I have worked in community development for nearly 30 years. I have
carried out missions on behalf of my country with pride, even in the face of
risks to my safety. I did so because I believed in my country, in my
government,” he continued.
“I still want to believe that my government
values my life and my service, and that a US passport means something,” he
wrote. “I refuse to accept that my country would leave me behind.
Mr. President, please take whatever steps are necessary to bring me
Concurrent with Gross’s appeal, the Anti-Defamation League called
for his release.
“On this fourth anniversary of Mr. Gross’s
imprisonment, we reiterate our call on the Cuban Government to release him
immediately on humanitarian grounds,” said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL national
director. “We continue to call on other international leaders, particularly
those in Latin America, who maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, to do all
they can to urge President Raul Castro to release him.”Henry Rome
contributed to this report.