American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross has launched a hunger strike on April 3rd to protest his imprisonment in a Cuban jail and the lack of American assistance.
“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”
Gross says he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour.
The Cuban government wants the United States to allow the return to Cuba of five spies in prison or on probation in the United States in return for negotiations on Gross.
“I’ve been begging our government for more than four years to bring Alan home… I don’t think he can survive much more of this.,” Gross’ wife, Judy, said in a statement.
Kerry said Tuesday that he had spoken to the Gross family a month ago.
“We are very, very focused on trying to get Alan Gross out of there; his treatment is inhumane,” Kerry said while testifying before the U.S. Senate.