WASHINGTON (JTA) — The family of Alan Gross, the Jewish American imprisoned in Cuba, likened his request to visit his ailing mother to a similar request by a Cuban imprisoned in the United States.
Gross, imprisoned since 2009 for his efforts to connect the island’s small Jewish community to the Internet, sent an appeal through his lawyer to Cuban President Raul Castro in order to allow him to visit his mother, Evelyn Gross, who is suffering from terminal lung cancer.
In a March 7 letter to the Cuban president, Gross’ counsel, Peter Kahn, said that Evelyn Gross’ condition has worsened and she wished to see her son one last time.
“We are reaching out to you directly, with the knowledge that you have the power to grant such humanitarian requests, as you have done in the past, and with the hope that you will extend a humanitarian gesture not only towards Alan, but to his ailing mother,” Kahn wrote in a letter obtained by JTA.
Gross’ wife, Judy, likened her husband’s situation to that of one of the Cuban Five, a group of intelligence officers being held in the U.S. for espionage. She said her husband’s request was similar to that of Rene Gonzalez, whose brother is dying of cancer in Cuba.
“I fully appreciate Rene Gonzalez’s need to visit a dying family member. We need to remember that these are real people and real lives that are profoundly affected by these decisions,” Judy Gross said in a news release.
A number of analysts have said that the the Cuban government is detaining Gross in order to trade him for the Cuban Five. Until now, however, Gross’ advocates and family have not compared the two cases.