An American man who has been imprisoned in Cuba for more than four years is on a hunger strike, according to a statement released by his lawyer Tuesday.
Alan Gross, 64, said he began fasting to protest his treatment by the governments of both Cuba and the United States. He said he began fasting last Thursday.
Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009 while working quietly in the Communist-run country to set up Internet access for the island's small Jewish community. At the time, Gross was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development, which works to promote democracy on the island. Because Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, Gross was ultimately tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
His case has become a sticking point in improving ties between the two countries, which have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1961.