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Papal Visit Elicits Hope for Freedom of Alan Gross

Wife of Alan Gross expressed hope that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba would help bring about her husband’s release.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/28/2012, 1:30 PM

Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba
Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba
Reuters

Judy Gross, wife of the American international development worker who is imprisoned in Cuba, expressed hope that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the country would help bring about her husband’s release.

Alan Gross was arrested on December 3, 2009, for distributing what officials described as sensitive communications equipment to the island's Jewish community.

"He was a contractor for a USAID contract to help improve the internet and intranet access to the Jewish community there," Mrs. Gross told NBC 6 news. "Alan had been there three years ago on a mission and just fell in love with the community."

Mrs. Gross said that her husband had no intention of causing harm.  “Alan went to Cuba not knowing that he was doing anything wrong, so a lot of people say, ‘Well, it’s Alan’s fault. They let him through customs, he got receipts for his equipment, nobody informed him that he was breaking any kind of law. So maybe Alan is guilty of being naïve, but I am not even sure that you can go that far,” she said.

Cuba has refused to free Gross, even on a temporary basis to allow him to see his mother and daughter, both of whom have been diagnosed with cancer.

“My older daughter was so busy with the cancer, so she had to concentrate on herself,” Mrs. Gross said. “My youngest daughter had a good relationship with Alan. They’d go fishing and hiking and she kind of avoids it because it hurts her.”

Gross’ wife had hopes that the decision of a Miami judge to temporarily release the convicted Cuban spy, Rene Gonzalez, allowing him the opportunity to visit his ailing brother who suffers from lung cancer, would provide Cuba with an incentive to reciprocate the act of goodwill and free her husband. Her hopes, however, have yet to be actualized.

“I have lung cancer in both lungs and it stands to reason I’m not going to be here for any length of time, so I want to see my son,” said Gross’ mother.

“The timing is huge, and I feel it’s a vehicle that hopefully will let Alan get home,” said his wife. “We are urging that the pope will urge President Castro that and I think the pope can succeed in getting Alan released."