WASHINGTON (JTA) — Alan Gross pledged to return to Cuba should the government release him to visit his ailing mother.
"I would return to Cuba," Gross told CNN in a home interview last Friday. "You know, you — you can quote me on that. I’m saying it live. I would return to Cuba if they let me visit my mother before she dies. And we’ve gotten no response, no response whatsoever."
He dismissed a reported Cuban offer to fly his mother, who lives in Texas, to Cuba as "baloney," noting that she is too ill to travel.
His mother, 90, is suffering from inoperable cancer; his daughter also has undergone cancer treatment since his arrest.
Gross was arrested in 2009 and sentenced last year to 15 years on charges related to his distribution of communications equipment to the island’s small Jewish community, working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.
He has appealed for humanitarian leave of two weeks, and his family has noted that a U.S. judge allowed Raul Gonzalez, on parole after serving time for espionage, to return to Cuba for a short period to visit his dying brother.
Gross said the items he was bringing to the Cuban Jewish community, in a bid to enhance their connections with others in the Jewish world, were unremarkable.
"My understanding was if there was any problem with — with the things that I was bringing here — which, by the way, anyone could buy in any Best Buy or Radio Shack or on Amazon.com — that if there was any problem at the airport that I would just leave the equipment at the airport and take it back with me when I left," he said.