Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    U.S. Urges Cuba to Free Alan Gross for His Mother’s Funeral

    U.S. Urges Cuba to Free Alan Gross for His Mother’s Funeral
    United States urges Cuba to allow imprisoned contractor to travel home
    to attend his mother’s funeral as a humanitarian gesture.
    By Elad Benari
    First Publish: 6/19/2014, 5:44 AM

    The United States called on Cuba on Wednesday to allow imprisoned
    contractor Alan Gross to travel home to attend his mother’s funeral as a
    humanitarian gesture, AFP reports.

    Gross, 65, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba in 2011 after
    being convicted of “acts against the independence or territorial
    integrity of the state” for allegedly distributing communications
    equipment as a contractor for USAID.

    Washington has repeatedly called for his release, and on Wednesday State
    Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki offered “our deepest and sincerest
    condolences” following the news that his 92-year-old mother, Evelyn, had
    died after a long battle with lung cancer.

    “We obviously feel it is a tragedy that he was unable to be home in the
    United States at his mother’s bedside for her passing,” Psaki was quoted
    by AFP as having told reporters.

    “We’ve urged the Cuban government to grant Mr. Gross a humanitarian
    furlough so that he can travel to the United States and be with his
    family during this time of mourning.”

    Psaki would not say whether Washington would provide guarantees that
    Gross would return to Havana to serve the rest of his sentence.

    Gross’s family said the news of his mother’s death “is a devastating
    blow for Alan and our family.”

    “I am extremely worried that now Alan will give up all hope of ever
    coming home and do something drastic,” his wife Judy said in a statement.

    “Surely, there must be something President (Barack) Obama can do to
    secure Alan’s immediate release,” she added.

    The family said Cuban officials had refused to give Gross a chance to
    visit his mother while she was still alive, despite repeated pleas after
    she was diagnosed with cancer.

    Gross ended an eight-day hunger strike on April 11 to press for his
    release from prison. That hunger strike ended after a telephone
    conversation with his mother.

    Gross’s family and US officials have also raised concerns about his own
    health. He was arrested in 2009 and is said to have lost more than 100
    pounds (45 kilos) in weight. He suffers from chronic pain and the family
    are concerned that he is losing his will to live.

    The Cuban government has expressed its willingness to free Gross in
    exchange for the United States free the so-called “Cuban Five”,
    intelligence agents convicted in a 1998 U.S. spy case.

    Havana acknowledges the five men – two of whom have been released after
    serving their sentences – were agents but says they were spying on
    “terrorist” exiles and hails them as national heroes.

    Secretary of State John Kerry has said in the past that Washington would
    work to free Gross but outright rejected a deal with Havana to swap him
    for the five Cuban spies.

    Source: U.S. Urges Cuba to Free Gross for Mother’s Funeral – News from
    America – News – Arutz Sheva –