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Alan Gross Biopsy, Hopeful but Not Definitive

The results of a biopsy released by the Cuban government raises hopes that Jewish American contractor Alan Gross does not have cancer, his lawyer said, but his family still wants his own physician to examine him.

“While we very much hope that these test results are accurate and do not doubt the Cuban government’s belief that Mr. Gross is healthy, the only way he will feel confident in them is for the Cuban government to allow an independent medical examination by a doctor of his choosing,” said a statement by Gross’ attorney, Jared Genser, on Wednesday, after the Cuban government released data from an examination by Rabbi Elie Abadie, a U.S. physician whom the Cubans allowed to examine Gross.

Gross’ radiologist, Dr. Alan Cohen of Maryland, said in an accompanying statement that the result is “hopeful but not definitive” because of the small sample size obtained by Abadie.

Gross has an unidentified mass behind his right shoulder, according to reports, and has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest in December 2009. His family says he is suffering from degenerative arthritis.

Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the state.” He was arrested in 2009 for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations said the Cuban news conference announcing the medical results underscored the need to release him.

“It is time for the Cuban government to demonstrate compassion and release Mr. Gross so that he can receive a complete medical examination by American doctors with the proper expertise,” the Presidents Conference said in a statement.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) expressed their disappointment that the news conference, which the Cuban government had touted to reporters on Tuesday, was not to announce his release.

“Though we are deeply disappointed by Cuba’s failure to make such an indication today, our commitment to Alan’s cause is undiminished and we will continue to work to ensure his immediate and unconditional release,” they said in a joint statement.

Last week, Gross’ wife, Judith, sued the U.S. government and the company that contracted his work in Cuba, saying their training was inadequate and a factor in his imprisonment.

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