Alan Gross, a Jewish-American contractor in prison in Cuba, asked US President Barack Obama in a letter sent on Tuesday to help secure his release, as he marked the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.
“It is clear to me, Mr. President, that only with your personal involvement can my release be secured,” read the letter, which was published by the Washington Post
. “I know that your administration and prior administrations have taken extraordinary steps to obtain the release of other US citizens imprisoned abroad — even citizens who were not arrested for their work on behalf of their country.”
Gross, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state."
“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,” his letter said. “I did so because I believed in my country, in my government. I still want to believe that my government values my life and my service, and that a US passport means something.”
The US State Department on Monday called on the Cuban government to release Gross “immediately and unconditionally.”