WASHINGTON — An American contractor, sentenced to a 15-year prison term in Cuba for trying to establish an illegal Internet service, has gone on a hunger strike to make his case to the international media.
Reuters reported that Alan Gross, age 64, was a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (known as USAID). He has been imprisoned since his arrest in 2009.
He was arrested after trying to establish an online network for Jews in Cuba, which was his fifth trip to the island country. His sentence was handed down in 2011 and U.S. President Barack Obama has not addressed his status with Cuba after normalizing mailing relations in 2011.
Gross, through his lawyer, said the following:
“I began a fast on April 3 in protest of the treatment to which I am subjected by the governments of Cuba and the United States…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 has lost 110 pounds in prison before this hunger strike and is imprisoned in a small, perpetually-lit cell with two other prisoners for 23 hours a day.