Senators call for Alan Gross release from Cuba

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Two senators are calling on Cuba to release Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross immediately and unconditionally from a military hospital.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced a resolution on Dec. 3, the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest, that also urges the Cuban government to look into his medical problems. The resolution has 29 co-sponsors.

“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,” Moran said.

About 300 people held a candlelight vigil for Gross in front of the Cuban Embassy in Washington on Dec. 2.

Gross, 63, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state 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 for International Development.

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 Dec. 3 statement.

“We continue to ask the Cuban government to grant Alan Gross’ 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 nonprofit research center in Washington, Gross asked that the United States negotiate for his release and that a dialogue without preconditions be held between the two governments, NBC News reported. — jta