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US ‘in conversations’ to free Alan Gross, Obama says

President says Jewish contractor, imprisoned in Cuba for over 5 years, ‘shouldn’t have been held in the first place’

Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, at the Western Wall in spring, 2005. (photo credit: Courtesy of Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington)
Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, at the Western Wall in spring, 2005. (photo credit: Courtesy of Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington)

President Barack Obama said the United States has been “in conversations” about trying to free American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross from a Cuban jail.

“We’ve been in conversations about how we can get Alan Gross home for quite some time,” Obama told Jorge Ramos of the Florida-based Fusion television network, a sister to ABC.

Obama said the conversations were through a “variety of channels,” but did not say whether that includes the Cuban government.

“We continue to be concerned about him. We think that he shouldn’t have been held in the first place,” Obama told Ramos.

Gross, 65, of Potomac, Maryland, earlier this month began his sixth year of a 15-year prison term in Cuba for “crimes against the state.”

He reportedly is in ill health and has lost more than 100 pounds since his incarceration, and has suffered from painful arthritis.

In August, Gross said he could no longer take life in prison and reportedly said goodbye to his family.

Gross was leaving Cuba when he was arrested in December 2009 for setting up Internet access for the Jewish community there as a contractor for the US Agency for International Development.

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