‘It was terrible’: Alan Gross gives first interview after being released
from a Cuban prison
By Ian Shapira November 30 at 12:13 PM
It’s been nearly a year since Alan P. Gross was finally released from a
Cuban prison. The Maryland man had been there for five years, on charges
he was working in Cuba as an American spy instead of a USAID contractor,
but was freed thanks to an historic detente between the Cold War foes.
American media outlets clamored for interviews, but Gross stayed silent.
Until last night.
In an interview with Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” on Sunday night, Gross
said the Cubans threatened to rip off his fingernails and hang him. He
lost 110 pounds and five teeth due to lack of nutrition. To stay in
shape, he walked 10,000 steps in circles inside his cell at the Carlos
Finlay Military Hospital in Havana.
[Alan Gross’s exclusive interview with Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes”]
“It was terrible. There was, it was a time of sensory deprivation for
me, especially that first year,” said Gross, wearing a dark suit and red
tie. “The place was infested with ants and roaches. I didn’t have any
meat, really, for five years.”
Aside from pacing around his cell, Gross also wrote numerous letters
home to relatives across the country.
Pelley’s exclusive interview is as interesting for what it includes and
for what it omits. Gross said he was sent to Cuba multiple times by the
USAID to set up Internet connections for Cuba’s Jewish community. And
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who helped secure his release, told Pelley
that Gross’s work looked very much like the kind of thing the
Cubans were accusing him of: spying.
“Well, they’re not a spy agency,” Leahy said of the USAID. “So they
shouldn’t do things that make it look like that and I think it was a
disservice to all the men and women who work so well for our country
with USAID around the world.”
Why didn’t Pelley or his producers interview anyone at USAID, especially
Gross’s superiors? And if the reporters tried, why didn’t they at least
Other questions lingered after Pelley’s interview wrapped up: Did Gross
ever discover how the Cubans found out what he was doing? Did someone at
one of the synagogues rat him out? Or did the Cubans figure it out on
their own by spying on the congregations Gross was trying to aid?
Source: ‘It was terrible’: Alan Gross gives first interview after being
released from a Cuban prison – The Washington Post –