Alan Gross, the 65-year-old US contractor just released from Cuba after being held since 2009, is an international development specialist who traveled the world in relief efforts for more than two decades. Based in Maryland, he worked in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. He was working with USAID on a project to improve wireless access across Cuba–especially in small Jewish enclaves–when he was arrested, detained for 14 months and then sentenced to 15 years in a Havana prison. Gross’s crime was the distribution of the equipment communications equipment like network devices, laptops and cellphones that he also trained Cuban citizens to use. Gross’s “destabilizing” activities were deemed “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
CNN reports that Gross’s lawyer said that while imprisoned, “Gross has lost more than 100 pounds and is losing his teeth. His hips are so weak that he can barely walk and he has lost vision in one eye.” The website dedicated to Gross’s release, BringAlanHome.org, states that Gross “suffers from chronic pain, and his mental health is deteriorating.” Gross is married and has two adult daughters.