Senators plea for Cuba to release imprisoned American

Gross, a contractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development, was arrested three years ago and sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying after he delivered satellite phones and computer equipment to Cubans. Gross says he was simply helping out the Cuban Jewish community gain access to the Internet, but Cuba accuses him of providing regime opponents with sophisticated communications equipment.

He has since lost more than 100 pounds and is suffering from arthritis and other ailments, the 44 lawmakers write, while his mother and daughter have been diagnosed with cancer.

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“Members of the Senate have traveled to your country, written to you and your dignitaries, and employed other creative means to encourage Mr. Gross’s release,” says the letter, which was spearheaded by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). “Yet these attempts thus far have been futile, and Mr. Gross’s ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to improve our bilateral relations.”