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.
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.”
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."