Daily Israel Report

American Jailed in Cuba Ends Hunger Strike

U.S. contractor Alan Gross ends an eight-day hunger strike after a telephone conversation with his mother.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 4/12/2014, 1:22 AM

U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross and his wife Judy
U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross and his wife Judy
Reuters

U.S. contractor Alan Gross ended an eight-day hunger strike Friday to press for his release from prison in Cuba, AFP reported.

Gross moved to end his protest after a telephone conversation with his mother, who will turn 92 years old on Tuesday, according to defense attorney Scott Gilbert.

"My protest fast is suspended as of today," Gross said in a statement dictated from his Havana prison to Gilbert, according to AFP.

At the same time he warned that "there will be further protests to come," without specifying what those might be.

"There will be no cause for further intense protest when both governments show more concern for human beings and less malice and derision toward each other," the statement added.

Gilbert noted that his client's "family and friends have been very concerned about his health and have asked him to end his fast."

The 64-year-old was arrested in December 2009 for allegedly distributing telecommunications equipment to members of Cuba's Jewish community under a contract with the US Agency for International Development.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state."

Gross, who has been held for more than four year, has asked President Barack Obama to personally intervene to help him return to the United States.

He had launched his fast on April 3 to protest his "inhumane treatment."

The Cuban government has expressed its willingness to free Gross in exchange for the United States free the so-called “Cuban Five”, intelligence agents convicted in a 1998 U.S. spy case.   

Havana acknowledges the five men - two of whom have been released after serving their sentences - were agents but says they were spying on "terrorist" exiles and hails them as national heroes. 

Secretary of State John Kerry has said in the past that Washington would work to free Gross but outright rejected a deal with Havana to swap him for the five Cuban spies.

"They were and have been attempts to trade Alan Gross for the five spies that are in prison here in the United States, and we've refused to do that because there's no equivalency," Kerry said at the time.

"Alan Gross is wrongly imprisoned, and we're not going to trade as if it's a spy for a spy, which they're trying to allege," he stressed.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)