Saturday, April 21, 2012

American in Cuban prison: 'Get me the hell out of here'

American in Cuban prison: 'Get me the hell out of here'

The U.S. government contractor, who was imprisoned two years ago for
bringing communications equipment into Cuba for a U.S. government
democracy project, called NBC's Andrea Mitchell from jail in Havana.
By Andrea Mitchell, NBC News correspondent

A U.S. government contractor sentenced to 15 years prison in Cuba
contacted NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Friday, reaching out from prison in
Havana to plead for help.

"Get me the hell out of here," Brian Gross told Mitchell, she reported
on NBC News with Brian Williams.

The Maryland native, who has served two and a half years, was convicted
of crimes against the state for bringing satellite and other
communications equipment onto the island as part of a USAID-funded
democracy-building program. Cuba considers such programs an attempt to
destabilize the government.
Gross has been pleading for parole to visit his 90-year-old mother
before she dies of lung cancer.

"It is no longer about Cuban-U.S. relations," Gross told Mitchell. "It's
about my family and me."

Gross gets one call a week, and usually he reserves that for his wife,
Judy, but this week he called Mitchell because he wanted to get the word
out about his plight, she reported.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was allowed to visit Gross at the prison on
Feb. 24, and he later met with Cuban President Raul Castro to seek his

Leahy said Castro agreed that Gross "was no spy" The Associated Press

Gross spoke virtually no Spanish and traveled to Cuba five times under
his own name before his arrest in December 2009, according to AP.

But Leahy came home with little optimism for Gross' release.

The Gross affair has chilled relations between the U.S. and Cuba,
diminishing chances for near-term rapprochement.

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