Alan Gross, the U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba after being convicted of subversion, received a Hanukah visit from leaders of the island's Jewish community.
The visit took place Thursday at the Havana military hospital where Gross is being held, Hebrew Community president Adela Dworin said in a statement sent to Efe.
"We talked for two hours about various topics, such as his wife's request to President Barack Obama to intercede for his release," Dworin said.
Gross was in better spirits than when she saw him on Sept. 13 for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Dworin said.
The 64-year-old American told her and Hebrew Community Foundation vice president David Prinstein that he was eating well and exercising daily, Dworin said.
"He thanked us for our presence and confided to us that once back in his country and reunited with his family ... he would like to return to Cuba because he feels great affection and sympathy for the Cuban people," the statement said.
Gross "lit the eight candles of Hanukah and offered the blessing," Dworin said.
"With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me," Gross said this week in a letter to Obama.
The missive was delivered to the White House on Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of Gross' arrest in Cuba in possession of satellite communications equipment he said was intended for the island's Jewish community.
Gross traveled to Cuba on behalf of a Maryland company that won a contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development to expand Internet access and the flow of information on the Communist-ruled island.
Havana said he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion.
In August 2012, Cuba's highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on the American.
Cuba has hinted that it would release Gross in exchange for the return of the four members of the "Cuban Five" intelligence agents who remain jailed in the United States.
Washington dismisses talk of a possible swap, demanding that Cuba release Gross unconditionally. EFE