Alan Gross In 'Normal' Health, Cuba Says

Denies Wife's Claim He Is Deteriorating Quickly

Happier Days: Alan Gross, with his wife, Judy, in Jerusalem in 2005.
courtesy of gross family
Happier Days: Alan Gross, with his wife, Judy, in Jerusalem in 2005.

By Reuters

Published September 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Cuba said on Wednesday that jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross is in “normal” health, despite his wife’s claims to the contrary, as it reiterated its willingness to talk with the U.S. government about resolving the case.

Gross, arrested in Havana in December 2009 for illegally bringing in Internet equipment and setting up wi-fi networks under a controversial U.S. program, is serving a 15-year sentence handed down in an April 2011 trial. The case halted a brief warming in relations between Washington and Havana.

Wife Judy Gross said in a statement on Tuesday she had just visited her husband and found him to be in deteriorating health.

“I am devastated by his appearance,” she said. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal.” She said her husband, 63, has lost 105 pounds (48 kg), has degenerative arthritis and a “mass” behind his right shoulder blade.

On Wednesday, Cuba refuted her allegations.

“The state of health of Mr. Gross continues being normal and he regularly does intense physical exercises,” Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal said in a statement.

She said Judy Gross had visited her husband three times at the end of last week for which “the best conditions were created.”

Gross was working semi-covertly in Cuba under a U.S. program promoting political change on the island.

The U.S. government has said he was only setting up Internet connections for Cuba’s Jewish community, but Cuba viewed his actions as part of the United States’ longstanding campaign to topple the island’s communist system.

Gross’ arrest ended a short-lived thaw in relations between Havana and Washington under President Barack Obama, who had eased the 50-year-long U.S. trade embargo against the island and allowed Cuban Americans to freely travel and send remittances to their homeland.

Cuban officials have previously suggested the two countries could do a prisoner swap - Gross for four Cuban agents jailed in the United States on spying charges.

Tuesday was the 14th anniversary of the arrest and incarceration of the agents, who the Cuban government says have been treated unjustly.

WASHINGTON REJECTS PRISONER SWAP

The United States has rejected the idea of a prisoner swap but did offer last year to send one of the four convicted Cuban spies home in exchange for Gross, a deal Cuba rejected.

Gross recently hired a new lawyer, Jared Genser, a Washington-based international human rights attorney whose clients have included Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar.

Genser told Reuters that Cuba had violated Gross’ rights to freedom of expression and had given him an unfair trial.

He said he had filed a petition to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking a finding against Cuba. The U.N. group has no power to enforce such a ruling, but its decision could place pressure on the Cuban government.

“A government detaining a person wrongly typically only lets them out when the costs substantially outweigh the benefits of detaining them,” Genser said. “I’ve seen how an opinion from the United Nations is a very effective tool, when combined with the appropriate political and public relations advocacy efforts.”

Genser also urged Cuba to allow Gross to be examined by an independent doctor. The true state of his health could not be assessed by the physicians who were also “Cuban government agents” who have seen Gross so far, he said.

The U.N. petition and Genser’s blunt statements appeared to signal new, more aggressive tactics as part of Judy Gross’ long battle to free her husband, a veteran development worker.

Previously, she had taken a more conciliatory approach. But in June, Judy Gross complained publicly about her husband’s condition, which prompted an angry denial from Cuba and a cryptic reminder that Gross could be in prison instead of the Havana military hospital where he is being held.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.