Alan Gross, held in Cuba for four years, ends hunger strike
April 11th, 2014
03:55 PM ET
7 months ago

Alan Gross, held in Cuba for four years, ends hunger strike

Washington (CNN) - Alan Gross, the former American subcontractor who's spent four years imprisoned in Cuba, ended a hunger strike Friday that he launched last week in a bid to spur both the United States and Cuba to resolve his case.

Gross told his attorney Scott Gilbert that he would end his hunger strike, at the urging of family and friends who were concerned with his deteriorating health, but more protest would come.

"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," Gross told his attorney, according to a statement distributed by his U.S.-based public relations firm.

Gross called earlier this week on President Barack Obama to become personally involved in securing his release from the small Cuban jail where he's been incarcerated since 2009. Gross' lawyer on Tuesday said the U.S. government had put a resolution to his case in jeopardy after secretly setting up a social media network designed to help Cubans communicate.

"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 wrote in a statement announcing the fast.

"Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters," he wrote.

Gross, who was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested, was charged by a Cuban court in 2011 of being an American spy. USAID has said he was in the country working on a U.S. government project setting up satellite internet connections.

Earlier this week, the U.S. government acknowledged the aid agency had secretly built a Twitter-like social media network meant to help Cubans communicate, though officials denied the website was meant to undermine the island's leftist government. The website was first made public in a report from the Associated Press.

Gross told Gilbert on Tuesday that the social media effort was "the last straw" in his determination to go on the hunger strike.

In a statement, Gilbert criticized USAID for setting up the network, called Zunzuneo. Gilbert said the disclosure had put Gross case in danger.

"Once Alan was arrested, it is shocking that USAID would imperil his safety even further by running a covert operation in Cuba," Gilbert said. "USAID has made one absurdly bad decision after another. Running this program is contrary to everything we have been told by high-level representatives of the Obama Administration about USAID's activities in Cuba."

Gross last ate solid food in the evening of April 2, though he continues to drink water, according to his lawyer, and so far on the hunger strike, he's lost 10 pounds.

"When I asked him how long he planned to continue the hunger strike," Gilbert said in a statement. "[H]e said, 'as long as it takes.'"

Since Gross was arrested, he's lost more than 110 pounds, according to his representatives. They note he's confined in his cell for 23 hours a day, where lights remain on throughout the night.

The 64-year-old still has 11 years remaining on his 15-year sentence.

"I've been begging our government for more than four years to bring Alan home," his wife, Judy Gross, said on Tuesday. "I'm worried sick about Alan's health, and I don't think he can survive much more of this."


Filed under: Cuba
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    It would seem that the Cubans could care less if he starved himself to death.

    April 11, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Dead Bear

    Can we possibly exchange Ted Cruz for Alan Gross???

    April 11, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Chris-E...al

    I Hope one day Cuba can open up the doors to freedom . Its sad they have to live that way . I wonder what they could even do with freedom ? They certainly have never truely had it ? I know they would like a chance at it . Maybe one day soon .

    April 11, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. tom l

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – I read your post claiming Sebelius was fired, so I presume you latest post is more crap trying to make you cute and clever.
    -----------------
    You mean the one where she gratuitously and without basis in fact managed to also call the President a mysoginist Tim?
    Oh it is going to take a whole lot more than crap to make her sound clever, and I'm willing to bet from the way she sounds that cute never made it inside that building.
    Cute left the building years and years ago.
    =====

    Now come on, kids. It's called a joke. Let's just relax a bit. It's Friday afternoon. Let's all enjoy some adult beverages and be thankful that we live in such a wonderful country.

    April 11, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Dead Bear – How about a twofer, Rubio and Cruz?

    April 11, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein

    There is no cause for being in a cell like that for 23 hours a day with the light on constantly. If Cuba would let him go, I am sure that there is something that we could do for them.

    @Dead Bear - that sounds like a great idea to me.

    April 11, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Tampa Tim

    CALIFORNIA
    I find it interesting how most democrats defend Obama's, Pelosi's and Sebelius' stance on Partial Birth Abortion. You democrats must REALLY HATE babies.
    ----
    I am not aware of anyone in in the current administration who has called for partial birth abortions, so where did you get this? Until you give birth yourself, maybe you should stay out of it.

    April 11, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. just saying

    Gross called earlier this week on President Barack Obama to become personally involved in securing his release from the small Cuban jail where he's been incarcerated since 2009.
    --

    sorry... you are on your own. there is simply not enough time in obama's busy schedule of golf outings, vacations, campaign fund raisers and celebrity events. if you can somehow become a major campaign contributor, obama will consider apppointing you as our ambassador to cuba.

    April 11, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Justa fool- You really don't like our president do you. According to you right wingnuts, all of Obama's successes are attributed to one of the worst presidents in history, W, and all of W's failures were caused by Clinton. We have overcome W's record job loss, ended a war and soon another one, stock market doubled since 2008, deficit one third of W's in 2008, auto industry and housing industry saved, ACA, and more, yet all that without a single republican vote to help.

    April 11, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Well , Cuba should just release him and we should end the Cuban embargo that's has cost them billions of tourist DOLLARS, and the Castro fossils will be dead in a couple of years ANYWAY .

    April 11, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @Tampa Tim
    CALIFORNIA
    I find it interesting how most democrats defend Obama's, Pelosi's and Sebelius' stance on Partial Birth Abortion. You democrats must REALLY HATE babies.
    --
    I am not aware of anyone in in the current administration who has called for partial birth abortions, so where did you get this? Until you give birth yourself, maybe you should stay out of it.
    ---------–
    10 points awarded for attempt to create a brand new conspiracy theory.
    15 points for no sources or facts to allow for uncontrolled growth and no verification.
    10 points for furthering the Theocracy take over of the country with fake Christian morals.
    The loony hits just keep on coming today!
    Positive news for liberals is like hitting the tin foil hat hornets nest.

    April 11, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    If we really want to bring down their government, tell them Cruz is a special consultant at running things. He will go in, block operations and read Dr.Suess. End of their government!

    April 11, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Hey GOP , if you dislike our form of goverment so much, THAT YOU WORK FOR at an INFLATED SALARY, maybe you should just LEAVE. Go some where where they DONT have any healthcare like SOMIALIA. MORONS

    April 11, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. CryBabies

    Tampa Tim....Get a job. I've been out of the loop for 2 weeks. I come back and I see you, Sniffet, Rudy, Silence Do Good still dominating this sight. Do you people have no purpose in life than blogging 24/7 , trying to sound relevant........how boring! Yada,yada, yada,yada...blah, blah ,blah. I'll check in in two weeks to see if you have expanded your horizons.

    April 11, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Thomas

    By the way , the above photo was taken in Israel not Cuba .

    April 11, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |