American contractor Alan Gross on Wednesday thanked President Barack Obama for securing his release from prison in Cuba, where he had been held for five years.
“Ultimately, the decision to arrange for and secure my release was made in the Oval Office,” Gross said. “To President Obama and the NSC staff, thank you.”
He also recognized his wife, Judy, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) for their efforts.
“It was crucial to my survival knowing that I was not forgotten,” Gross said.
He then took a moment to express his solidarity with the Cuban people.
“In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected,” Gross said. “To me, Cubanos, or at least most of them, are incredibly kind, generous and talented. It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments’ mutually belligerent policies.”
Gross called the Obama administration’s plans to normalize relations with Cuba a “game-changer” in that respect and pledged his full support. He then concluded with a request for the press to respect his privacy.
“I’m incredibly blessed finally to have the freedom to resume a positive and constructive life,” he said.