Monday Marks 3-Year Anniversary of Alan Gross' Arrest in Cuba

American contractor arrested by Cuban officials three years ago

By Julia Bagg
|  Monday, Dec 3, 2012  |  Updated 8:11 AM EDT
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Alan Gross's Release "Has Nothing To Do With Politics," Wife Says

AP

In this photo provided by James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012.

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Wife Of Alan Gross Hopes Pope's Visit Will Bring Back Husband

Judy Gross told NBC 6 she feels her husband, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail, has been used as a bargaining chip in the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

Alan Gross's Release "Has Nothing To Do With Politics," Wife Says

In 2009 American Alan Gross went to Cuba on a humanitarian mission, but on the night before he was to return home, Cuban authorities took him into custody. Now, after being convicted and given a 15-year sentence in Cuba for what the country called acts to undermine its government, Gross is in a maximum security prison, "defeated, depressed (and) hopeless," his wife Judy Gross said. NBC 6's Jackie Nespral sat down for an exclusive interview with Judy Gross about her husband's case, which has been closely followed in South Florida. Letters have been sent to Pope Benedict XVI before his Cuba trip, in the hopes that Cuba will make a humanitarian gesture by freeing Alan Gross while the pontiff is visiting the island. "We're urging the pope to talk to President Castro, to see if he can have him released (as a) humanitarian," Judy Gross said. "It has nothing to do with politics. It's a humanitarian release."
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Monday marks a somber anniversary for a frustrated American stuck in a Cuban prison.

Three years ago, Cuban officials arrested contractor Alan Gross. Sunday night his wife, Judy Gross, gathered with supporters, carrying signs and candles outside the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C.

They’re demanding the president bring the 63-year-old Maryland native home.

“President Obama, now that the elections are over, I urge you to take up Alan’s case and make his release a top priority,” Judy Gross announced in the capital.

Wife of Alan Gross Hope's Pope's Visit Will Bring Back Husband

Her husband is accused of smuggling sophisticated satellite and other telecommunications equipment into Cuba for the island’s small Jewish community.

Alan Gross worked as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID. He maintains he was only trying to expand internet access on the island.

A Cuban court sentenced him in 2011 to fifteen years for crimes “against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.”

Last week, his wife said “he feels like a soldier in the field left to die.”

Cuba Upholds Gross Sentence

A Cuba policy analyst said Gross is asking the U.S. government to sign a “non-belligerency pact” with Cuba as a step toward negotiating his release.

His family is also suing the U.S. government, saying Gross was a “pawn” in a a state department program to change the Castro regime.
           
The state department has declined to comment. The contractor said bringing Gross back is its "highest priority."

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