Jewish prisoner asks Obama to intercede for his release from Cuban jail

US Jew Alan Gross, was arrested in 2009 while working as USAID contractor; jailed for working as intelligence agent.

alan gross_311 reuters (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
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 intelligence.
He was arrested while distributing satellite phones and other banned communications technologies to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community.
“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 said.
“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 home.”
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.