alan gross

Alan Gross has launched a hunger strike in a bid to secure his release from a Cuban prison.

The Jewish American has been imprisoned since 2009, and is currently serving a 15-year sentence for his part in installing Internet lines in a small Cuban town, an action the local government called “crimes against the state.”

Gross, 64, began the hunger strike April 3, in an effort to also raise awareness of what he believes is a lack of proper assistance from the US government.

“I began a fast on April 3rd in protest of the treatment to which I am subjected by the governments of Cuba and the United States,” Gross said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal. Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters.”

Gross has been supported in his campaign by his wife, Judy, and several Jewish-American groups. His supporters claim he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and is in poor health.

“I’ve been begging our government for more than four years to bring Alan home,” Judy Gross said. “I’m worried sick about Alan’s health, and I don’t think he can survive much more of this.”

The Cuban government has attempted to secure the release of five Cuban spies from US imprisonment in exchange for Gross’ release, an offer the White House is unlikely to accept.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with the Gross family this week, saying Tuesday the man’s treatment is “inhumane.”

“We are very, very focused on trying to get Alan Gross out of there,” Kerry added.