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Cuba says jailed U.S. contractor doesn't have cancer

From Patrick Oppmann, CNN
November 28, 2012 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
Alan Gross is serving a 15-year sentence in Havana for bringing banned communications equipment.
Alan Gross is serving a 15-year sentence in Havana for bringing banned communications equipment.
  • Alan Gross has been jailed in Cuba since 2009
  • His family and lawyer are worried about his health, and suggested he may have cancer
  • Cuban officials say a biopsy shows Gross is not suffering from cancer
  • Gross' lawyer said plans are being made for an American specialist to review the results

Havana (CNN) -- An American jailed in Cuba has chronic health problems but is not suffering from cancer as had been suggested by his attorney, the Cuban government said on Wednesday.

Alan Gross, a U.S. State Department contractor, is serving a 15-year sentence in Havana for bringing banned communications equipment to the island.

Read more: Cuba denies jailed contractor ill

In recent months, Gross' family and his attorney have said his health is failing and that he has suffered significant weight loss since his arrest three years ago.

His attorney, Jared Genser, said in a statement in October that a mass of tissue on Gross' right shoulder could be cancer.

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But Cuban authorities said a medical team conducted a biopsy that showed the mass was not cancerous.

Test results were revealed to U.S. officials at a meeting on Monday in Havana, Cuba's foreign ministry said in a statement. The Cuban Interest Section in Washington told Gross' wife.

Read more: American jailed in Cuba says he feels like a hostage

"The Cuban medical team likewise ratified that the general health condition of Mr. Gross is normal and that he is receiving the treatment required by his diseases, including the chronic illnesses that are typical of his age, which he had been suffering from even before his detention," the statement said.

"Mr. Gross maintains a systematic physical exercises regime on a voluntary basis and eats a balanced diet that includes foods of his choice," the statement said.

Read more: Carter visits jailed American contractor in Cuba

Genser said in a statement that "we very much hope that these test results are accurate" and "do not doubt the Cuban government's belief that Mr. Gross is healthy."

But he also said Cuba's own test results "raise doubts" about their conclusiveness and plans are in the works for an American oncologist to review them.

"We urge the Cuban government to allow this to happen promptly so we can put questions about Mr. Gross' health to rest," Genser said.

Cuban officials said in September that they wanted to negotiate Gross' case and that of five Cuban intelligence operatives held in the United States.

U.S. government officials have rebuffed any suggestion of a prisoner swap and have called for Gross' immediate release.

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