In Letter to President Obama, 300 Rabbis Urge for Immediate Release of Alan Gross
WASHINGTON – Three hundred rabbis from across the United States called on President Obama today to negotiate the immediate release of Alan Gross, an American citizen imprisoned in Cuba as a direct result of work he was doing on behalf of the U.S. government.
“Alan went to Cuba on behalf of our government. His immediate release from prison in Cuba and return to the U.S. must be a priority for our nation. Indeed, we believe this is a moral imperative,” the rabbis said in a letter to Obama. “Our communities are gravely concerned that Alan continues to languish in a Cuban prison nearly five years after his arrest. We ask, with all respect, that you take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a prompt end to Alan’s, and his family’s, continuing nightmare.”
The rabbis' letter comes as Gross, 65, has said goodbye to his wife and youngest daughter and is refusing to see any visitors.
As his health continues to deteriorate, both physically and emotionally, Gross has said he’s leaving Cuba one way or another.
To date, he has served 1,706 days in prison and is approaching the fifth anniversary of his arrest and imprisonment. Gross was a USAID subcontractor working with the Jewish community in Havana to expand access to the Internet when Cuban officials arrested him and accused him of undermining the Cuban state. Eventually, the Cuban government sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
During a recent visit with his wife, Judy, and his daughter, Nina, Gross said he could not take life in prison much longer and said his goodbyes. In addition, Gross is refusing to see visitors from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, including the new chief of mission.
“Alan has withdrawn, and he told me that his life in prison is not a life worth living,” said Scott Gilbert, Gross’s attorney. “He’s confined to a small cell for 24 hours a day. He’s lost most of the vision in his right eye. His hips are failing and he can barely walk. He has stopped all attempts to exercise. Alan’s emotional deterioration has been severe, and his mother’s lingering and painful death has only accelerated this.”
Judy Gross, who has campaigned for Alan's release from prison since he was first arrested, described her last visit with Alan as "traumatic."
"I've never seen Alan in such bad shape during all the years that the Cuban government has kept him in prison," Judy Gross said. "Our daughter, Nina, was unprepared to see how gaunt and physically frail her father has become. And his decision to say goodbye to us was wrenching.”
"I am imploring both the U.S. and Cuban governments to do the humane thing and agree to let Alan come home," she said. "Time is running out."