Alan Gross released from Cuban jail


Jewish American citizen Alan Gross has been freed by Cuba after five years in prison as the first step in a thawing of relations between the two nations.

Mr Gross, 65, was released after the US agreed to free three Cubans who had been jailed in Florida for spying. He left Cuba on a US government plane today, according to reports.

Speaking this afternoon, US President Barack Obama said the deal was part of a move to "end an outdated approach" to relations with Cuba.

Mr Gross was detained in December 2009 while working as a subcontractor for the US government's Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide the local Jewish community with internet access.

As part of Mr Gross’s work, he imported satellite equipment that was deemed illegal.

The Cuban authorities said his activities were an attempt at a regime change, and sentenced him to 15 years for committing "acts against the integrity of the state".

Washington always protested his innocence. Obama administration officials have considered Mr Gross's imprisonment an impediment to improving relations with Cuba.

Last week, Mr Obama said the US had been “in conversations” with Cuba about Mr Gross for some time.

Mr Gross is believed to have suffered from ill health, including arthritis and weight loss, during his imprisonment.

In August, he said he could no longer take life in prison and was thought to have said goodbye to his family.
Mr Obama said: “We think that he shouldn’t have been held in the first place.”

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