Gross was arrested in December 2009 while on a USAID mission in Cuba and later convicted of crimes against the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Judy Gross told the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly that she was at the couple's home in Maryland on Dec. 3, 2009, when he failed to come home from the airport. She said at first she thought his flight was delayed, but was startled to find out that his plane had already landed.
She said she began to have a sinking feeling, and after a few phone calls, she found out he hadn't made it onto his flight.
Later that night, Gross said she learned that her husband had been arrested on unknown charges and was being held at a maximum security prison in Cuba.
During her speech in Denver, Gross said she wanted to tell people a little bit about her husband. She said:
Above all he is a humanitarian. he has devoted his life to helping others. He's worked in over 50 countries...with one goal: Improving the life of the disadvantaged. These qualities brought him to Cuba. He wanted to do what he always does - help his fellow Jews.Gross said the Jewish community in Cuba is "small but spread out." Members of the community have difficulty communicating with one another and the rest of the world. She said:
Alan jumped at the chance to help them communicate with one another and to share. He was helping them to have better access to the Internet so they could download prayer books and see pictures of the outside world.Gross said her husband wanted to help Jews in Cuba find and share "recipes, sports scores, everyday things."
This is what he was doing in Cuba, nothing more.During Gross' trial in Cuba, she said the government called several witnesses. One was a frail old man who had trouble making it to the witness stand. Judy Gross said he talked about connecting to the Internet, quoting him as saying:
I saw the world. I saw the Western Wall.Judy Gross said:
Because of this humanitarian work, Alan is sitting in a jail cell today. Alan convicted of crimes against the state of Cuba and sentenced to 15 years for helping the Jewish community share prayers and look at pictures.Gross said her husband's imprisonment is "beyond any sense of reason" and "unfair and unjust." She said Alan Gross is "not well."
He has lost more than 100 pounds. He's suffering every day mentally, physically and spiritually. We are working to to declare Thursday December 1st Alan Gross Day across the country. ...we want world to know Alan needs to be released. Contact members of Congress. Tell them to take action on behalf of Alan. Let the Cuban government know that Alan needs to come home.H/t Emilio Ichikawa