Potomac resident Alan Gross — who has been in a Cuban prison since Dec. 3, 2009 — will have a letter critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the case delivered to the White House on Tuesday, reports theWashington Post.
Gross’ family is trying to direct pressure at Obama, including in a demonstration Tuesday outside the White House to be led by his wife, Judy. Gross notes that this administration and its predecessors “have taken extraordinary steps to obtain the release of other U.S. citizens imprisoned abroad,” the newspaper said. But unlike in those cases, Obama has sent no special emissaries nor agreed to negotiate over Gross.
In May, Patch reported that Gross, 64, "settled a negligence suit accusing his employer of mishandling risks associated with his mission" in Cuba, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
In December 2009, Gross was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison after a Cuban court convicted him of working for U.S. government intelligence. Gross and his supporters maintain he was in Cuba working as a contractor to bring cell phones and computers to the country, Potomac Patch reported.
Gross sued Bethesda-based Development Alternatives Inc. and the U.S. government last year, alleging they didn’t provide adequate training to guard his safety and refused to pull him out of Cuba after he expressed concerns about the dangers of his assignment, Businessweek reported.
The lawsuit was for $60 million, The Republic reported. A settlement was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., but the amount has not been disclosed. The agreement only covers Development Alternatives Inc., not the federal government, The Republic reported.
Van Hollen said that while in Cuba he "indicated to President Raul Castro that the release of Mr. Gross is essential if we are going to improve the relationship between the United States and Cuba—something I believe is in the interest of both of our countries."
During his stay in prison, Gross' health has declined, and he has "developed a growth on his right shoulder and has lost more than 100 pounds, the result, [his wife Judith Gross] fears, of some type of cancer," WUSA9 reported.
In his letter to Obama, the Post says Gross describes his isolation from the world, adding that his daughter and mother have been stricken by cancer, his wife has had to sell the family home in Maryland, and “my business and career have been destroyed.”