An American subcontractor who was wrongfully imprisoned in Cuba is claiming that Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders visited him behind bars and told the prisoner that he didn't understand "what's so wrong" about the communist country.
In an interview with NPR, Alan Gross, a man who spent five years in a Cuban prison during the Obama administration, recalled his visit with Sen. Sanders back in 2014. Sanders visited Cuba as part of a congressional delegation, along with Sens. Jon Tester and Heidi Heitkamp.
During the one-hour meeting, Sanders told the prisoner that he didn't understand why others criticized Cuba, Gross said in an interview with NPR.
"He said, quote: 'I don't know what's so wrong with this country,'" Gross recalled.
Sanders' campaign declined to comment about the meeting with Gross, and Tester said he did not recall the discussion.
A source close to Heitkamp said the then-North Dakota senator remembered that Sanders seemed to disregard the meeting with Gross and that an uncomfortable exchange occurred, but did not remember the exact remark.
Sanders has long faced criticism for remarks he has made about autocratic governments, most recently in an interview last week with 60 Minutes.
During the interview, Sanders gave qualified praise to deceased Cuban leader Fidel Castro, citing the country's high literacy rate.
"We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But it's unfair to simply say that everything is bad," Sanders told 60 Minutes. "When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?"
This follows other positive comments Sanders has made about dictatorial regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua and the Soviet Union over the course of his decades-long political career.
Gross was arrested in 2009 while working to expand internet access to a small Jewish community beyond the restrictive internet regulations permitted by the Castro regime. In prison, Gross says he lost more than 100 pounds and five of his teeth. He also says that interrogators threatened to remove his fingernails and hang him.
It's no wonder that, when Bernie Sanders visited him in prison and said he didn't understand what's so wrong with the communist country, Gross took offense to the senator's remarks.
"I just think, you know, it was a stupid thing for him to do," Gross told NPR. "First, how could he not have seen the incredible deterioration of what was once the grandeur of the pre-Castro era. And two, how could be so insensitive to make that remark to a political hostage — me!"
Sanders couldn't see it because he's a dangerous far-left ideologue. He didn't see the Soviet Union as a murderous regime either. He honeymooned there.