Photo: Alan Gross
The mother of Alan Gross, the U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba on a conviction for subversion, died Wednesday.
Evelyn Gross, 92, died in Plano, Texas, after a years-long battle against lung cancer, the family said in a statement.
She was diagnosed a few months after her son’s December 2009 arrest in Cuba.
Alan Gross, now 64, traveled to Cuba on behalf of a Maryland company that won a contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development to expand Internet access and the flow of information on the Communist-ruled island.
“Evelyn Gross’s last wish was to see her son before she died. Cuban officials refused to give Alan a humanitarian furlough to visit his mother, despite repeated pleas and the certainty that she was dying,” the family said.
Havana charged Alan Gross with illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion.
Gross’ health has suffered during his incarceration and he mounted a hunger strike in April in hopes of putting pressure on the U.S. and Cuban governments to reach an accord for his release.
“This is a devastating blow for Alan and our family,” the prisoner’s wife, Judy Gross, said in the statement released Wednesday.
“I am extremely worried that now Alan will give up all hope of ever coming home and do something drastic. Surely, there must be something President Obama can do to secure Alan’s immediate release,” she said.
Havana has suggested an exchange of Gross for three Cuban intelligence agents serving time in U.S. prisons.
The United States rejects talk of a prisoner swap, instead demanding that Cuba release Gross without conditions.