Cuba: Bill Richardson, Former New Mexico Governor, Unable To Meet With Jailed American Alan Gross
- Submitted by: manso
- 09 / 09 / 2011
PAUL HAVEN and ANNE-MARIE GARCIA. 09/ 9/11. HAVANA — Hopes that a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba might soon be freed were dashed when former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said the Cuban government refused to let him meet with the prisoner.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Richardson described 62-year-old Alan Gross as an "American hostage."
He said he would not leave the island until he was allowed to see him at a military hospital where he is being held.
"My mission here as a private citizen is to secure the release of Alan Gross, an American hostage," Richardson said late Thursday. "I've been informed by the Cuban government that I would not be allowed to see Alan Gross during my visit."
Richardson said that he had been scheduled to depart Saturday, but that he told Cuban officials he would not leave until he was granted a meeting with Gross.
"I promised his wife, Judy, that I would see him," the governor said.
It was not clear whether he had any further meetings scheduled Friday. There was no immediate comment from Cuba's government, or from Washington.
The news, delivered by a somber Richardson at the end of a long day of meetings with Cuban officials, was sure to come as a shock to those who had felt certain Gross' long ordeal was nearing an end.
Gross' lawyer said Wednesday that Richardson came to Havana at the invitation of the Cuban government, and earlier Thursday a leading Cuban official praised the governor and described Gross as a "victim."
The case has chilled efforts to improve ties between Washington and Havana, and the failure of Richardson's visit to win his release would likely set things back even further.