Cuba Refuses to Release Sick Jewish Prisoner

An American-Jewish contractor who is imprisoned in Cuba is being denied requests for release despite being diagnosed with cancer

Annie Lubin ,

An American imprisoned for distributing lapto
An American imprisoned for distributing lapto

An American contractor imprisoned in Cuba for distributing laptops and communications equipment to members of the Jewish community there is reported to be suffering from cancer, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Alan Gross, 69, has lost 47 kilograms (103 pounds) since being jailed in December 2009 and five months ago doctors detected an unidentified mass under his right arm, they said in a statement, according to AFP.

Gross' lawyers have submitted to the Cuban government an American doctor's review of test results conducted by Cuban doctors that concludes the mass could be a life-threatening cancer.

Even so, Cuba has rebuffed requests by Gross' wife Judy to grant Gross release or a break from jail on humanitarian grounds, while proposing a swap for five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States, an outcome Washington has rejected.

After his arrest in December 2009, Gross was tried for illegally distributing laptops and communications equipment to the country's small Jewish community under a US State Department contract.

In 2011, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity" of the communist-ruled island.