Senators call for Alan Gross’ release from Cuban jail

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two U.S. senators are calling on Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross from a military hospital there.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced a resolution on Monday, the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest for crimes against the state, that also urges the Cuban government to look into Gross’ medical problems. It has 29 co-sponsors.

“Year after year, the Cuban government continues to demonstrate why bilateral relations between our two countries remain frozen,” Cardin said. “Alan Gross should no longer be forced to suffer the consequences of political gamesmanship. Enough is enough. Alan should be immediately and unconditionally released so he can return home for medical treatment and to support his family. The health and humanitarian needs of he and his family are paramount.” he said.

Moran added, “The Senate’s passage of this resolution will send a loud and clear message to Cuba: it is past time for Alan Gross to come home.”

Gross, 63, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison following his 2009 arrest for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.

Also Monday, the State Department marked the third anniversary of Gross’ imprisonment by calling again for his release.

"Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost more than 100 pounds and suffers from severe degenerative arthritis that affects his mobility, and other health problems," spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. "His family is anxious to evaluate whether he is receiving appropriate medical treatment, something that can best be determined by having a doctor of his own choosing examine him.

"We continue to ask the Cuban Government to grant Alan Gross’s request to travel to the United States to visit his 90-year-old mother, Evelyn Gross, who is gravely ill. This is a humanitarian issue. The Cuban government should release Alan Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs."

In a recent meeting with a Cuba specialist from a non-profit research center in Washington, Gross asked that the United States negotiate for his release and a dialogue with no preconditions be held between the two governments, NBC News reported.
 

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