The wife of Alan Gross, the Jewish contractor jailed in Cuba for crimes against the state, said she hopes President Barack Obama’s re-election will soon help lead to her ailing husband’s release from the communist-ruled country.
Gross, 63, has been locked up in Cuba since December 2009 for his work on behalf of a semi-covert U.S. program aimed at promoting political change on the island.
He is serving a 15-year sentence for setting up Internet networks in Cuba, work that a judge said was a crime against the Cuban state, and his imprisonment halted efforts by Obama to improve long-hostile relations between the United States and Cuba, which began soon after his first election in 2008.
“The U.S. government sent him there, they sent him on a project, and they need to take responsibility for getting this man home,” Judy Gross told Reuters in an interview late on Friday.
Calling her husband a “pawn” in an unfortunate game between two countries just 90 miles apart, she said she believed Obama’s re-election could now help his administration push harder for Gross’s freedom, even if it means making possible concessions to Cuba that are opposed by conservative Cuban-American lawmakers.
“Nobody has ever come and said ‘oh well, we’re not doing this because of the election.’ But obviously that’s what we think was going on, and we’ll find out,” Judy Gross said.
“It’s going to take a few more weeks and we’ll be in contact with the administration, and we’ll hope for the best,” she added.
She did not elaborate on exactly what Washington could do to win Gross’s freedom. But she said he has had considerable weight loss since his arrest, as well as having degenerative arthritis and an untreated potentially cancerous mass behind his shoulder. She has been pressing for his release on humanitarian grounds.
“He’s a pawn in the sense that Cuba wants something for him and the United States is unwilling to give that up,” Gross said in the phone interview.