American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross completed his fifth year in prison in Cuba.
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Wednesday was the first day of Gross’ sixth year of a 15-year prison term for “crimes against the state."
Gross, 65, of Potomac, Md., was leaving Cuba when he was arrested in December 2009 for setting up Internet access for the Jewish community there as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement issued Tuesday evening that Gross continues to suffer an "unjustified imprisonment in difficult conditions in Cuba."
"We reiterate our call on the Cuban government, echoing foreign leaders and even Cuba’s allies, to release Alan Gross immediately,” Harf said in a statement.
Gross reportedly is in ill health and has lost more than 100 pounds since his incarceration, and has suffered from painful arthritis.
Gross’ wife Judy said in a statement released Wednesday that "Alan is resolved that he will not endure another year imprisoned in Cuba, and I am afraid that we are at the end."
Cuba has expressed an interest in negotiating a trade of Gross for three Cubans who are jailed in the United States on espionage charges, an idea which the Obama administration has rejected.
In August, Gross said he could no longer take life in prison and reportedly said goodbye to his family.