Former Cuba prisoner Alan Gross details torture threats and survival
Government contractor spent five years in jail on espionage charges
Release in December 2014 was part of thaw in US-Cuba relations
Friday 27 November 2015 18.48 GMT Last modified on Friday 27 November
2015 18.50 GMT
Alan Gross, the American government contractor who spent five years in a
Cuban jail on espionage charges, has said remembering how his family
survived the Holocaust helped him through his ordeal, according to
interview excerpts released on Friday.
Gross, 66, spoke in what CBS News said was his first interview since his
release in December 2014 as part of a historic diplomatic thaw between
the US and Cuba. Gross said he was threatened with death and torture,
according to CBS, which plans to air the full interview on Sunday.
“They threatened to hang me. They threatened to pull out my fingernails.
They said I’d never see the light of day,” he said.
To get through the ordeal, he said, he focused on three things: “I
thought about my family that survived the Holocaust, I exercised
religiously every day and I found something every day to laugh at.“
While imprisoned, Gross would refuse to eat, losing 100lbs. He also
grieved for his mother’s death, from cancer. In his last few months he
stopped taking visitors.
Gross, a longtime-supporter of Jewish causes, was sentenced to 15 years
in prison for importing banned technology and trying to establish
clandestine internet service for Cuban Jews. He was caught off-guard
when he was not quickly released and saw no signs of action by the US
government, he told CBS.
“I said to myself, ‘Where the hell are they? Where are they?’ I didn’t
have any idea I’d be there for five years. I knew I was in trouble,”
Gross said, according to the excerpts.
Gross and his wife sued the federal government in 2012 for negligence,
but the lawsuit was thrown out and the supreme court in April rejected
his appeal. He has since joined a new lobbying effort aimed at greater
engagement between Cuba and the US.
Gross has also settled with the US Agency for International Development
and the contractor for which he worked, Bethesda, Maryland-based DAI. He
was expected to receive $3.2m.
Source: Former Cuba prisoner Alan Gross details torture threats and
survival strategies | World news | The Guardian –