(JTA) — The wife of American contractor Alan Gross called for increased pressure on Congress and President Obama to get her husband released from a Cuban jail.
Judy Gross spoke Monday at a protest on her husband’s behalf outside the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. The rally was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
Dec. 3 will mark two years since the arrest of Alan Gross.
“I spoke with Alan two days ago. Never have I heard him more hopeless and depressed,” Judy Gross told the rally.
She said he has gained five pounds after losing 100, due to the fact that he has difficulty getting around because of debilitating arthritis, she said.
Gross, 62, is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for “crimes against the state” for distributing laptop computers and connecting Cuban Jews to the Internet. He was arrested in 2009 as he was leaving Cuba.
Gross’ family and U.S. State Department officials say that Gross was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country’s 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.
Judy Gross and her husband’s supporters have stepped up their activism after quiet diplomacy failed.