Jewish-American aid worker Alan Gross has been released from Cuban prison after five years, major media outlets reported Wednesday morning, citing United States officials. The U.S. secured Gross’s freedom in exchange for the release of three Cubans imprisoned in America.
Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development who went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet, received a 15-year prison sentence for what the Cuban government called “crimes against the state.” He marked his fifth year of incarceration on Dec. 3, and his health has deteriorated drastically, according to his family.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) had expressed optimism about Gross’s future upon visiting Gross in November.
“I do feel we are closer [to Gross’s freedom],” Flake said last month. “One, because of what Alan Gross has said himself. This is going to end one way or another. We have gone on five years and any benefit the Cuban government may have seen has to have evaporated.”
The Cuban prisoners exchanged for Gross are reportedly members of the “Cuban Five,” a group of men who were part of a network sent by former Cuban president Fidel Castro to spy on the U.S. from south Florida. In 2001, they were convicted of conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents.