WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the wife of Alan Gross, an American aid contractor jailed in Cuba on espionage charges, and pledged to keep up efforts to secure his freedom.
“We have used, and continue to use, every appropriate diplomatic channel, publicly and privately, to press for Mr Gross’s release,” said State Department spokesman William Ostick in a statement after Clinton’s talks with Judy Gross.
Describing Gross’s incarceration as “unjust,” it said the United States had urged governments around the world, prominent figures traveling to Cuba, and religious leaders to press for Gross’s release.
“We call on people around the world to raise this issue with the Cuban government, because Mr Gross deserves to come home to be with his family,” the statement added, without giving any further detail about Tuesday’s meeting.
Gross, who is 63, was arrested in December 2009 for distributing laptops and communications equipment to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community under a US State Department contract.
He was found guilty in March 2011 of “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of Cuba and sentenced to 15 years prison.
Gross has always denied the charges against him and said earlier this month that he had lost about 100 pounds in weight since his arrest.
Cuba has indicated that they would consider releasing Gross if the United States frees members of the Cuban Five espionage ring.
Those five men were found guilty in 2001 of trying to infiltrate US military installations in southern Florida and were given long prison terms, ranging from 15 years to life.
Cuba has acknowledged the five were intelligence agents, but says they were gathering information on “terrorist” plots by Cuban expatriates in Florida, not spying on the US government.