Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuba says US lying about jailed American’s health

    Cuba says US lying about jailed American's

    By By Paul Haven on December 06, 2012

    HAVANA (AP) — Cuba accused the United States of lying about the health

    and conditions of confinement of a jailed American government

    subcontractor, and pushed back Wednesday against an apparent U.N. ruling

    that his 15-year sentence is arbitrary and a violation of his .

    Josefina Vidal, the top Cuba diplomat for North American affairs, also

    said it was unrealistic to expect Cuba to free Maryland resident Alan

    "unilaterally" — a clear demand for U.S. concessions in the case

    of five Cuban intelligence agents sentenced in Florida to long terms.

    The U.S. government "is directly responsible for the situation that led

    to the detention and judgment and trial of Mr. Alan Gross so we have to

    sit down together, to look together for a solution to this case," she said.

    Vidal said Cuba had received word from the U.N. Working Group on

    Arbitrary Detention on Tuesday that it ruled in Gross' favor, though the

    decision had not yet been made public.

    While the ruling is a public relations hit to Cuba, the body has no

    enforcement powers. Vidal said the same agency determined in 2005 that

    the U.S. jailing of the five Cuban agents was arbitrary.

    Vidal said Cuba has repeatedly made its terms known to U.S. officials

    and has not gotten a response. Diplomats and the White House have flatly

    ruled out a swap, at least in public comments.

    Gross told a U.S. rabbi who visited him last week at a military

    where he is being held that he does not want to be linked to the

    intelligence agents' cases since he does not believe he committed

    espionage. But he added that he does desire better U.S.-Cuba ties and

    for all "political prisoners."

    Gross' champions say Cuba's insistence on an exchange amounts to holding

    the 63-year-old hostage. The case has chilled already frosty relations

    between the two nations.

    Gross was setting up wireless connections for Cuba's Jewish

    community as a subcontractor for USAID, the US government agency in

    charge of foreign economic development, when he was in December

    2009. The project he was working on was part of a $40 million-a-year

    program to promote democracy.

    U.S. officials have portrayed the work as purely humanitarian. But Gross

    was violating Cuban law by doing work for USAID in the country, since

    under Cuban law such activities must be authorized. Gross' wife

    acknowledged in a recent lawsuit against the U.S. government and her

    husband's employer that he knew the work he was doing was risky, and

    other documents show he took steps to conceal his activities.

    Gross, who was overweight before his arrest, has lost 105 pounds in

    custody and suffers from a number of ailments. Earlier this year, he

    developed a mass behind his right shoulder. His lawyers have called on

    Cuba to allow an independent doctor of his choosing to examine him.

    Vidal reiterated that a team of Cuban doctors performed a biopsy and

    found no evidence the growth was cancerous. She hinted that Cuba would

    release more tests if the accusations by U.S. political and diplomatic

    officials continue.

    "The U.S. government is lying once again to the public, saying that Mr.

    Gross has cancer and does not receive adequate medical care," she said.

    "These lies have not stopped, even after the results of the biopsy

    conducted on the lesion on his back were delivered to his family and

    U.S. authorities."

    Gross's lawyer has complained about Cuba's decision to disclose medical

    tests that are normally confidential.

    A resolution demanding Gross' release was introduced in the U.S. Senate

    this week and was expected to pass as early as Wednesday.

    On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated

    Washington's demand that Cuba release Gross, or at least allow him to

    travel to the United States to visit his elderly mother, who was

    diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

    Vidal repeated Cuba's position that such a trip was not in the offing.

    Recently, Gross' wife Judy filed a $60 million lawsuit against the U.S.

    government and the company that hired him, alleging they did not train

    him properly or make him aware of the risks he was running in Cuba.

    However, Vidal said Gross knew perfectly well that his activities were

    , and that he was being paid handsomely for the risk he was taking.

    "Mr. Gross violated Cuban law by committing acts that constitute serious

    crimes which are severely punishable in most countries, including the

    U.S.," she said.

    ___

    Paul Haven on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/paulhaven

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-12-06/cuba-says-us-lying-about-jailed-americans-health