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    Alan Gross: Cuba Releases Him After Five Years in Prison

    Alan Gross: Cuba Releases Him After Five Years in Prison
    Dec 17, 2014, 8:48 AM ET
    Senior National Correspondent

    Held for five years in Cuba, 65-year-old American contractor Alan Gross
    has been released from prison and is en route to U.S. soil, ABC News has
    learned exclusively.

    In a landmark humanitarian prisoner exchange to be announced by
    President Obama shortly at the White House, the agreement was reached
    following more than a year of secret back channel talks at the highest
    levels of both governments.

    Today’s release of Gross, who is said to be in poor physical condition,
    represents a first step toward normalizing relations with the neighbor
    just 90-miles off the Florida coast.

    Alan Gross, Jailed American In Cuba, Refuses Medical Treatment,
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    Gross was convicted of espionage by a Cuban court in 2011 and sentenced
    to 15 years for bringing telecommunication devices into Cuba while
    working as a subcontractor for United State Agency for International

    The Cuban government accused him of being party to a U.S.-led plot to
    overthrow the government through an “Arab spring.”

    Following a recent visit, Gross’ attorney described him as nearly
    toothless, barely able to walk because of arthritis in his hips and
    blind in one eye. He has been kept in a small room at a military
    hospital 24 hours a day with two other Cuban political prisoners.

    Gross has refused medical and dental care or outside privileges, and
    declined visits and food from the U.S. Interest section in Havana. He
    had promised a hunger strike leading to death if not released by the end
    of this year.

    In a statement released earlier this month to mark the anniversary of
    Gross’ time in jail, Gross’s wife Judy said: “Enough is enough. My
    husband has paid a terrible price for serving his country and community.”

    In return for Gross, the United States has agreed to the humanitarian
    release of three Cuban agents convicted of espionage in a controversial
    trial that found them guilty of spying on anti-Castro groups in Miami,
    but not the U.S. government. All three were most recently held in North
    Carolina at a federal medical facility for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

    The humanitarian release is just the beginning of a promised new
    relationship with Cuba. The White House is indicating the beginning of
    new talks on everything from travel restrictions to eventual lifting of
    the Cuban embargo in place since John F. Kennedy was President.

    In an interview last week with Jorge Ramos for Fusion — a sister
    network to ABC News — President Obama said: “We’ve been in
    conversations about how we can get Alan Gross home for quite some time.”

    “We continue to be concerned about him. We think that he shouldn’t have
    been held in the first place,” Obama told Ramos. “With respect to Cuba
    generally, I’ve made very clear that the policies that we have in making
    remittances easier for Cuban families, and making it easier for families
    to travel, have been helpful to people inside Cuba… But the Cuban
    government still needs to make significant changes.”

    Source: Alan Gross: Cuba Releases Him After Five Years in Prison – ABC
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