Washington – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the wife of U.S. contractor Alan Gross to discuss his incarceration in Cuba.
In a statement about the meeting sent to Efe, State Department spokesman William Ostick said Clinton and President Barack Obama are concerned about Gross' plight and his family's difficulties since he was imprisoned more than two years and five months ago.
The U.S. government is using all appropriate diplomatic channels to secure Gross' release, the spokesman said.
In the statement, Ostick urged people around the world to bring this matter up with the Cuban government, saying Gross has been unjustly imprisoned and deserves to return home to his family but not providing any further details about Clinton's meeting with Judy Gross.
Now 63, Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba's Jewish community.
Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion. Last August, Cuba's highest court upheld the 15-year prison sentence imposed on Gross, who was in Havana as part of a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In March, Gross wrote a letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro seeking a two-week furlough from prison to visit his dying mother in the United States.
Havana responded by suggesting that Gross' mother visit her son in prison, a proposal that the contractor told CNN's "Situation Room" earlier this month was "baloney."
"She is medically ordered not to travel. And the government of Cuba knows this," Gross said in a live interview with the cable network.
In that same interview, Gross said he was being held at a "secured hospital building" with three people to a room as opposed to a "typical Cuban jail."
Rene González, one of five Cuban intelligence agents sentenced to prison in the United States more than a decade ago for spying, was recently permitted to visit his gravely ill brother in Cuba.
Gonzalez completed his jail term last year but must serve three years' probation on U.S. soil before he can return to Cuba. Federal prosecutors opposed his application to visit his brother, but a judge rejected their arguments.
Havana has publicly hinted it would be prepared to free Gross outright in exchange for the return of the "Cuban Five," four of whom remain in U.S. prisons.
Cuba acknowledges the men were intelligence agents, but says they were spying on Miami's Cuban exile community, not the U.S. government.
The U.S. government rejects any notion of a swap.
"There is no equivalence between these situations. On the one hand, you have convicted spies in the United States and on the other hand you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this month.