American held in Cuba appeals to Obama for help

A former US contractor jailed in Cuba says he feels his country has abandoned him and is appealing to President Barack Obama to intervene to bring him home, the Washington Post reported.

Alan Gross aired his views in a letter sent via the US mission in Cuba. The letter was to be delivered to Obama Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of Gross's arrest in Cuba.

The 64-year-old Maryland native was detained while distributing communications equipment to Jewish groups in Cuba under a contract with the US Agency for International Development.

He was convicted in 2011 of crimes against the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In the letter, Gross said his daughter and mother have been stricken by cancer and that his wife has had to sell their family home in Maryland.

"My business and career have been destroyed," the Post quoted Gross as saying in the letter.

Gross said that while the current American government and predecessors "have taken extraordinary steps to obtain the release of other US citizens imprisoned abroad" Obama has sent no special emissaries or agreed to negotiate his case.

The Post said Gross's disappointment with the administration is shared by a growing number of US lawmakers.

It said they see him as one of the last victims of the Cold War and the long freeze in US-Cuba relations that has dragged on despite Obama's early pledges to work toward better ties.

In a letter to Obama last month, a bipartisan group of 66 senators called Gross's case "a matter of grave urgency" and urged the president to "act expeditiously to take whatever steps are in the national interest to obtain his release."

dw/jz