Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

U.S. Man Marks Five Years in Cuban Prison: Paid 'Terrible Price'

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

A Maryland contractor on Wednesday marked five years of imprisonment in Cuba, and his wife urged authorities to release him, saying he "has paid a terrible price" and was "literally wasting away" in confinement.

Alan Gross, 65, was arrested in Havana in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years for allegedly bringing communications equipment into the communist-run country while working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Cuba's President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Cuban officials said Gross was contracted to work for American intelligence services — a charge denied by Gross and the U.S. government.

Diplomatic overtures and family appeals have failed to secure the release of Gross, whose wife, Judy, said he had difficulty walking, had lost more than 100 pounds during his imprisonment and was now mostly blind in his right eye. Gross' family said he was bringing expanded Internet access to Cuba's small Jewish community when he was detained.

"Enough is enough,” Judy Gross said in a statement. “My husband has paid a terrible price for serving his country and community. Alan is resolved that he will not endure another year imprisoned in Cuba, and I am afraid that we are at the end. After five years of literally wasting away, Alan is done. It is time for President Obama to bring Alan back to the United States now; otherwise it will be too late."

Gross earlier this year said goodbye to his wife and daughter. He has also refused most other visitors though he did meet earlier in November with two U.S. Senators.

The State Department called for the immediate release of Gross, calling his detention “unjustified imprisonment in difficult conditions.”

“It is gravely disappointing, especially in light of its professed goal of providing Cubans with internet access, that the Cuban government has not allowed Mr. Gross to return to his family, where he belongs,” Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Leave your email if you’d like us to respond. (Optional)

Please enter a valid email address

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.