Family of U.S. contractor pleads with White House for help getting out of Cuban jail

Four years after being imprisoned in Cuba, the family of U.S. government contractor Alan Gross is pleading with the White House for help securing his release.

WASHINGTON — Shortly after he went to Cuba while working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Maryland contractor Alan Gross was thrown in jail.

On the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment, his family is pleading with the White House for help in securing his release.

“I have to be strong. I have to be so we can get Alan home,” says his wife, Judy Gross.

She joins more than 150 friends and family members at Lafayette Park in Northwest D.C. to ask for help from the government yet again. Local leaders Congressman John Delaney (D-Md.), D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Montgomery County’s Isiah Leggett are among the speakers.

Gross’ wife of 43 years read a letter her husband wrote to President Barack Obama asking that his plight not be ignored. It was delivered Tuesday.

In his letter to Obama, Alan Gross says he feels “abandoned by his government [and] abandoned by his country,” Judy Gross says.

Since his incarceration, Judy Gross has met with countless local leaders and lawmakers, including members of the State Department, to secure her husband’s release.

“It’s almost as if they don’t want to admit that he’s in Cuba – that’s how much it has been ignored,” she says.

Her husband is being held in a small cell for 23 hours a day. He has lost 110 pounds, Judy Gross says.

“I was stunned,” she says. “It was like looking at a human skeleton.”

Alan Gross was arrested in 2009 while working covertly in the Communist-run country to set up Internet access for the island’s small Jewish community, access that bypassed local restrictions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.