Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Wife of American jailed in Cuba pins hopes on Obama’s re-election

    Wife of American jailed in Cuba pins hopes on Obama's re-election

    By Tom Brown

    MIAMI | Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:44pm EST

    (Reuters) – The wife of Alan , the U.S. 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 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 , 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


    She spoke as she prepared to from Washington to Florida for a

    rally on Sunday in West Palm Beach to press for her husband's release.


    Cuba has said it proposed talks with the United States about resolving

    the Gross case but has received no answer. It has hinted that it was

    prepared to swap Gross for five Cuban government agents who received

    lengthy U.S. sentences in a 2001 trial in Miami.

    Washington has insisted that such a deal is out of the question though

    U.S. officials said last year they had suggested a swap of Gross for one

    agent, Rene Gonzalez, who is out on parole in Florida.

    Judy Gross said there was no question that Havana wants the agents,

    known as the "Cuban Five," freed in exchange for her husband. Cuba

    maintains that they were unjustly convicted of espionage and has made

    their freedom a national cause.

    "The fact is, what the Cubans are saying right now is that that's what

    they want," she said.

    She added that she doubted Washington would ever agree to the

    exchange. But Obama's election to a new term opened the door to many


    Some analysts have suggested that a further easing by the president of

    some restrictive regulations on Cuba could help in Gross's release. But

    any major changes in the long-standing U.S. trade against the

    island nation seem unlikely in the next Congress.

    Cuban-born Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the powerful

    chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a fierce critic of

    Cuban President , handily won re-election in Florida on

    November 6.

    "The United States needs to sit down with Cuba, even if they're saying

    'we only want the Cuban Five,'" Gross said.

    "They can't leave him there. They have to keep trying, and we'll keep

    pushing them," she said.

    Gross and her lawyer, Jared Genser, have been demanding that Cuba allow

    an independent medical expert to examine her husband. Cuban doctors have

    diagnosed the mass behind his right shoulder as a "hematoma" and told

    Gross in May that it would disappear in a few months, according to Genser.

    "The proper kinds of tests were not taken, so there's no way for sure

    anybody knows what it is," said Judy Gross, who visited her husband just

    last month.

    "This has been months and months now and it's quite frightening," she

    said. "We don't know why they haven't responded to our requests to have

    an independent doctor come in from an independent country. We're quite

    frustrated with that," she said.

    (Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Jackie Frank)