Published On: Aug 20 2014 08:43:31 AM CDTUpdated On: Dec 30 2014 03:05:26 PM CST
Alan Gross was released on Dec. 17 after being in the custody of the Cuban government since December 2009, when he was jailed while working as a subcontractor. Cuban authorities claimed Gross tried to set up illegal internet connections on the island. Gross says he was just trying to help connect the Jewish community to the Internet. Former President Jimmy Carter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have both traveled to Cuba on Gross' behalf, but have been unable to secure his release.
U.S. aid worker is the latest hostage to be killed by militant group ISIS after the White House confirmed the authenticity of a beheading video released Sunday. Here's a look at other Americans who have been detained abroad and their fates:
In June 2014, North Korea announced that it had detainedJeffrey Edward Fowle,a U.S. citizen it says entered the country as a tourist on April 29 and broke the law. Fowle was part of a tour group and was detained in mid-May after allegedly leaving a Bible in a hotel where he had been staying. In October, Jeffrey Fowle was released and is now back in Ohio with his family.
The Islamic State released a video in late October showing the beheading of another kidnapped American journalist. Steven Sotloff disappeared while reporting from Syria in August 2013, but his family kept the news secret, fearing harm to him if they went public. This image is from an earlier video in which Sotloff's life was threatened.
ISIS militants executed American journalist James Foley in retaliation for U.S. air strikes in Iraq last month. A video showing Foley's beheading was released by the group, much like Sotloff. Foley was kidnapped while covering the war in Syria in 2012.
American writer and journalist Peter Theo Curtis was held captive for nearly two years by Syrian militants Jabhat al-Nusra before being released by his captors and returned to the U.S. in August 2014.
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped on Jan. 23, 2002, while working in Karachi, Pakistan. Several weeks later, he too was beheaded and mutilated by his captors. In March 2007, at a closed military hearing in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that he had personally beheaded Pearl.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson has been missing since 2007. His family says he was working as a private investigator in Iran when he disappeared, and multiple reports suggest Levinson may have been working for the CIA.
Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American scholar, spent months in solitary confinement before Iran released her on bail in August 2007. Esfandiari was visiting her ailing mother in Tehran when she was arrested and charged with harming Iran's national security.
Robert Parkwas released by North Korea in 2010 without any apparent U.S. intervention. The Christian missionary crossed into North Korea from China, carrying a letter asking Kim Jong Il to free political prisoners and resign.
In 2009, American tourists Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were arrested by Iran on suspicion of espionage during a hiking trip along the Iraq-Iran border. Shourd was released 14 months later on "humanitarian grounds" while Bauer and Fattal were convicted of "illegal entry" and "espionage" two years after their arrest. They were each sentenced to eight years in prison, but were released on Sept. 21, 2011.
Former President Jimmy Carter negotiated the releaseofAijalon Gomes, who was detained in 2010 after crossing into North Korea illegally from China.
American journalists Laura Ling (top) and Euna Lee and were pardoned by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in 2009. The pair were arrested and imprisoned for illegal entry into the country earlier in the year. The move came a day after former President Bill Clinton had arrived in North Korea on a publicly unannounced visit seeking their release.
Saeed Abedini, a 33-year-old U.S. citizen of Iranian birth, was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013, accused of attempting to undermine the Iranian government and endangering national security by establishing home churches.
Mexican authorities arrestedYanira Maldonado, a U.S. citizen, in May 2013 for alleged drug possession. She and her husband, Gary, were traveling from Mexico back to the United States when their bus was stopped and searched. She was released a few days later and is now back in the United States.
U.S. tourist and Korean War veteranMerrill Newmanarrives at the Beijing airport on Dec. 7, 2013, after being released by North Korea. Newman was detained in October that year by North Korean authorities just minutes before he was to depart the country after visiting through an organized tour.
Warren Weinstein, a contractor held by al Qaeda militants, is a U.S. citizen who has been held hostage in Pakistan since August 2011.
A North Korean court sentencedKenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen, to 15 years of hard labor for committing "hostile acts" against the state. Those alleged acts were not detailed by the country's state-run news agency when it announced the sentence in May 2013. Bae, here in a photo from a Facebook page titled Remember Ken Bae, was arrested in November 2012.
An Iranian court threw out a 2011 death sentence forAmir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine charged with spying. But he was secretly retried in Iran and convicted of "practical collaboration with the U.S. government," his sister told CNN in April 2014. He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Hekmati was detained in August 2011 during a visit to see his grandmother.
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army showsSgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by insurgents in Afghanistan since 2009. The White House announced Bergdahl's release on May 31, 2014, in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.