Despite being imprisoned in Cuba for five years, Alan Gross would go back there someday.
That's one of the things that county councilmembers in Montgomery County learned as they met with Gross to honor him -- and talk to him -- during a closed-door session Thursday.
"He is a strong voice for improving relations with Cuba, because in all of the world -- and he's been in 54 different countries -- he said he never met a people who are so happy, so good-natured, so resilient," said Councilmember Roger Berliner. "He loves the Cuban people."
"We are just here to say welcome back home, we're glad that you're here," said Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive. "And to understand the challenges you face back on American soil back in Montgomery County."
Gross was sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison for importing banned technology for clandestine activities. His wife Judy tirelessly appealed to U.S. and Cuban authorities for his release from jail, arguing he was there bringing Internet access to the Cuban Jewish community.
Gross was released last December and returned to the U.S. He made a brief statement after the council presented him with a proclamation saluting his achievements.
"It was very touching," Gross said. "I'm very touched by the council's generosity; it was a great event. I'm glad I could be here."
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"He really discussed what's going on in Cuba," said President Montgomery County Council President George Levanthal. "How the Cuban folks are trying to manage in very strained circumstances and how the government is fundamentally corrupt and undemocratic."