Sen. Flake accompanies released American on flight

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Alan Gross By Jennifer Thomas Alan Gross By Jennifer Thomas
Alan and Judy Gross By Jennifer Thomas Alan and Judy Gross By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was on the plane that flew a released American prisoner from Cuba to the United States.

Flake was among three U.S. lawmakers accompanying Alan Gross, who was released Wednesday on humanitarian grounds.

Flake's office issued a statement in which the Arizona Republican said it was a wonderful day for Gross and his family.

Flake said it was an honor to accompany Gross on the flight.

Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development.

The agency does work promoting democracy in the communist country.

It was Gross' fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.

Flake statement on release of Alan Gross:

"This is a wonderful day for Alan Gross, for his wife Judy and their family. The manner in which they have endured this nightmare is worthy of praise and admiration. It was an honor to be with Alan as he touched down on U.S. soil after more than five years in a Cuban prison. When I visited Alan last month, he expressed the hope that his ordeal might somehow lead to positive changes between the United States and Cuba. With today's significant and far-reaching announcements, I think it already has."