September 13, 2011
Richardson leaves Cuba, fails to meet Gross
Bill Richardson is leaving Cuba after failing to secure even a meeting with imprisoned American contractor Alan Gross.
Richardson told the Associated Press on Tuesday that after a week in the country, Cuban officials would not allow him to meet with Gross, and would not even discuss Gross with him.
“It was just an outright rejection of even a dialogue on what could be done,” the former New Mexico governor said.
Gross, 62, is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for “crimes against the state” for distributing laptop computers and connecting Cuban Jews to the Internet.
Gross was arrested in 2009 as he was leaving Cuba and accused of being a spy.
His appeal was rejected recently by the island nation’s Supreme Court, and now the only legal avenue left available is for the commutation of his sentence by President Raul Castro. Richardson was also told he could not meet with Castro.
Since his incarceration, Gross reportedly has lost approximately 100 pounds and is suffering from partial paralysis, as well as other ailments.
His daughter has breast cancer and his mother was diagnosed with cancer as well.
A former U.S. congressman, energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson over the years has secured freedom for Americans imprisoned in Iraq and North Korea. He served two terms as New Mexico governor from 2003 to 2011.