(JNS.org) Judy Gross, the wife of jailed American Jewish contractor Alan Gross, said her husband’s health “continues to deteriorate” upon returning from visiting him in Cuba.
“[Alan] has lost 105 pounds and developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade,” Judy said in a statement issued Sept. 11. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal. I beg President [Raul] Castro, as a husband and father himself, to put an end to our anguish and let Alan come home to his loving family, including his dying mother.”
Gross, who was a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor, has been held in Cuban prisons since December 2009. He received 15-year sentence for bringing communications equipment into Cuba in an effort to give the country’s Jewish community Internet access. The U.S. said he was working with only with “peaceful, non-dissident, Jewish groups,” but Cuba convicted him of “crimes against the state.”
Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Josefina Vidal said in a statement Sept. 12 that Cuba “reiterates its willingness to talk with the United States government to find a solution in the case of Mr. Gross and continues to await an answer.”
However, Gross’s attorney Jared Genser said in statement Sept. 13 that his “independent conversations with officials at the White House, State Department, and on Capitol Hill make clear that the Cuban government has been repeatedly asked through formal and informal channels to explain how Alan Gross’s case can be resolved.”
“If Ms. Vidal is serious, I would urge her to convey through diplomatic channels a clear proposal to initiate meaningful discussions with the United States to secure Alan’s release,” Genser said.
Additionally, on Sept. 11, Gross’s lawyers said they filed a petition asking the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to conclude that Cuba has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—a treaty that guarantees freedom of expression and the rights to receive and disseminate information freely through any media of choice—by imprisoning Gross.
“Alan’s detention is in flagrant violation of international law,” Genser said. “It was clear from the court judgment he did nothing wrong and is merely being punished because of the Cuban government’s dislike of the U.S. government.”