WASHINGTON – The wife of a Maryland man jailed in Cuba as an alleged spy has written to Cuban President Raul Castro to apologize and plead for his release.
Judy Gross' husband Alan Gross was arrested at the Havana airport in December 2009. At the time, he was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government office that provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide.
"I recognize today that the Cuban government may not like the type of work that Alan was doing in Cuba ... But I want you to know that Alan loves the people of Cuba, and he only wanted to help them. He never intended them, or your government, any harm," Judy Gross wrote in a letter dated Aug. 4 and first reported Sunday by Reuters. "To the extent his work may have offended you or your government, he and I are genuinely remorseful."
Gross, who was able to visit her husband for the first time this summer, wrote that when she returned home she learned that the couple's 26-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"We need him, and I need him, more now than ever before," she wrote, adding that Gross' release would be viewed "as a wonderful humanitarian gesture on the part of the Cuban people."
She also told Castro that she worried about the health of her husband. He is 61, has lost more than 80 pounds since he was arrested and has developed a problem that may result in permanent paralysis in his right leg, she wrote.
Judy Gross has denied that her husband was a spy. She has said that her husband is a veteran development worker who was helping members of Cuba's Jewish community use the Internet to stay in contact with each other and with similar groups abroad. Communications equipment he brought with him was intended for humanitarian purposes, not for use by Cuba's dissident community, she said.
Gross has not been charged, but senior Cuban leaders have accused him of spying. U.S. diplomats, meanwhile, have insisted Gross was doing nothing wrong. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for Gross' release in June, saying that his continued detention was harming U.S.-Cuba relations.