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  • Submitted by: lena campos
  • 09 / 13 / 2012

The wife of imprisoned American Alan Gross said Tuesday she had returned from a trip to Cuba to see her husband and feared he would not survive his long incarceration.

Judy Gross said her husband had developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade and suffered from degenerative arthritis and other ailments. The mass is not believed to be cancerous.

The 63-year-old Maryland native, who was obese at the time of his arrest in December 2009, has lost 105 pounds while in custody and now appears gaunt in photos released from the Havana military hospital where he is being held.

"I am devastated by his appearance," Judy Gross wrote in a statement after her return to the United States. "While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal."

She begged Cuban President Raul Castro to "put an end to our anguish and let Alan come home."

There was no immediate reaction from Cuba's government to Judy Gross' plea.

Gross' lawyer, Jared Genser, said Judy Gross had arrived in Cuba Sept. 5 and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign Gross is being ill-treated, but the conditions of confinement are difficult for him.

"He is being treated fine," Genser said.

Gross has formally petitioned Cuba's Supreme Court to be allowed to return home temporarily to visit his elderly mother, who is dying of lung cancer. Earlier this year, a U.S. judge granted a similar plea to Rene Gonzalez, a Cuban agent who is on parole in the United States but was allowed to visit his dying brother in Cuba before returning to the United States.

Genser said his client has made a similar promise to return to complete his sentence if granted permission to visit his mother.

Gross was on a USAID-funded democracy-building program when he was arrested at Havana's Jose Marti Airport. He says he was only trying to provide Internet service to the island's small Jewish community.

Cuba says the multimillion-dollar programs are a veiled attempt by Washington to undermine the government, and has noted that Gross was carrying sophisticated communications equipment.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and has lost his final appeal, leaving him out of legal options.


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