If the U.S. can bring home Bowe Bergdahl, why can’t they do the same for Alan Gross?

If they can do it for Bowe why can’t they do it for Alan?

Such is the question being asked Wednesday in Havana by the wife of imprisoned USAID contractor Alan Gross.

The recent swap of five Taliban commanders for the U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl only heaped more frustration into the life of Judy Gross, who has tried just about everything to bring her husband home since his arrest on espionage charges in 2009 — charges he has vehemently denied. She’d like the U.S. government to make a similar deal for her husband, but there’s been little indication that will happen.

“If we can trade five members of the Taliban to bring home one American soldier, surely we can figure out a path forward to bring home one American citizen from a Cuban prison,” Judy Gross said in a statement after visiting her husband at the Cuban prison where he is kept in a cell 23 hours a day.

The idea of a swap has gained some momentum among commentators, including The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus.

But Cuban-American lawmakers are staunchly opposed. And Secretary of State John Kerry has said he does not support making a deal.

In the years since Gross’s imprisonment, his family has often talked about his desire to be reunited with his aging mother, Evelyn Gross, who was suffering with lung cancer. That’s impossible now. Evelyn Gross died last week at the age of 92.

“I am extremely worried that Alan is going to do something drastic now that his mother is gone,” Judy Gross said in her statement. “My husband and I need President Obama to do everything in his power to end this nightmare and bring Alan home from Cuba now.”

Scott Gilbert, the Gross’s attorney, said in a statement that he is “extremely worried that Alan is becoming more despondent every day. Both governments need to know that Alan plans to end his life in an effort to end this agony.”

Gilbert’s comments echoed a gloomy prediction that Judy Gross made in a March 2012 interview with The Post: “I think,” she said, “he’ll probably die in Cuban prison.”


From 2012: Alan Gross’s wife turns to pope for help

Manuel Roig-Franzia is a writer in The Washington Post’s Style section. His long-form articles span a broad range of subjects, including politics, power and the culture of Washington, as well as profiling major political figures and authors.
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