Skip to main content

Cuba denies jailed contractor ill

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
September 13, 2012 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Alan and Judy Gross in an undated photo.
Alan and Judy Gross in an undated photo. "I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal," she said of his imprisonment.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. State Department contractor Alan Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence
  • His wife, who visited him last week, says his health "continues to deteriorate"
  • "Mr. Gross's health is normal and he exercises regularly," a Cuban Foreign Ministry official says

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuba's government on Wednesday disputed reports that the health of imprisoned U.S. State Department contractor Alan Gross is failing while he serves a 15-year sentence on the island.

Gross' wife, Judy, visited him in prison last week and said that Gross, 63, has been wasting away in Cuba since his arrest in 2009 for bringing in banned communications equipment as part of a State Department program to spread democracy.

"Alan's health continues to deteriorate," Judy Gross said in a written statement. "He has lost 105 pounds and developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade. While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal."

The statement also said that lawyers for Gross had filed a petition with the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention protesting his imprisonment.

Is Cuba seeking prisoner swap with U.S.?
Who is Alan Gross?
Alan Gross: 'I am a hostage'

But the Cuban government released a statement disputing that Gross is ill.

"Mr. Gross's health is normal and he exercises regularly," Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal said in the statement. "Cuba reiterates that it is willing to discuss a solution to Mr. Gross's case and continues to wait for a response."

The solution that Cuban government officials have suggested for months could involve a prisoner swap: Gross for five Cuban intelligence agents jailed in the United States.

Four of the agents are serving lengthy sentences in U.S. prisons while a fifth has been released but remains on probation in the United States.

U.S. officials have rejected the idea of a swap, saying the Cuban agents were deep-cover spies while Gross' activities focused on bringing into Cuba banned communications equipment to connect the island's small Jewish community to the Internet.

Cuba has celebrated the five operatives as heroes, saying their intelligence work was meant to prevent attacks on the island from hard-line Cuban exile communities in South Florida.

In Havana on Wednesday, preparations were under way for a music concert to mark the 14th anniversary of the arrest of the five men in the United States.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT