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Alan Gross Calls for Closer U.S. Ties With Cuba

Alan Gross, who was imprisoned for five years in Cuba for his work connecting its Jewish community to the Internet, marked the one-year anniversary of his release pledging to advance warmer U.S.-Cuba ties.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Gross thanked those who supported him while in prison and announced he will soon be a grandfather for the first time.

“I am also gratified to witness a newfound diplomatic relationship between Cuba and the United States,” said Gross, 66, who was a subcontractor for the U.S. government when he was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state.

“I hope this new – and historic – relationship continues to evolve in a positive way. While I served as an involuntary catalyst for this change, I hope now to help foster continued good relations between our countries and our citizens.”

Gross, a Jewish-American from Potomac, Maryland, was released as part of a complicated deal that involved the release in Cuba of an unnamed American spy and in the United States of three imprisoned members of a spy ring.

President Barack Obama also used the exchange to launch renewed ties with Cuba that were frozen for over 50 years.

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