HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities today ruled the possibility of the US “contractor” imprisoned in Cuba, Alan Gross, as suffering from cancer, though this had been speculated in recent weeks, reported DPA news.
The results of a biopsy conducted on October 24 confirm that a lesion behind Gross’s right shoulder “is not carcinogenic,” according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Havana.
According to that office, American diplomats from the US Interests Section met two days ago at the headquarters of the ministry with the doctors treating Gross and were briefed on the outcome of the tests.
“The biopsy was negative for neoplastic cells,” read the statement, pointing to hematoma related impairment. In October, Gross’s lawyer had argued that the 63-year-old US citizen might have been suffering from cancer in prison.
“This test could not be performed previously since Mr. Gross refused to allow them,” added the Cuban ministry’s statement, which emphasizes that the health of the operative is “normal” and that he is receiving treatment for chronic “ailments” typical of his age.
Sources close to Gross, who has been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009, have pointed out repeatedly that the American’s health has deteriorated considerably in jail. According to his family, Gross has lost considerable weight since his arrest.
His relatives have also asked several times for Cuban President Raul Castro to pardon him on humanitarian grounds.
“Mr. Gross is exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet of his choice, which has allowed him to eliminate his previously obese condition,” today’s announcement also said.
The Alan Gross case is one of the issues that is currently straining relations between Washington and Havana. Gross was arrested in December 2009 while trying to smuggle sophisticated and banned communications equipment into Cuba.
Cuban authorities accused him of working for US intelligence and attempting to deliver the equipment to the proscribed domestic opposition.
In March 2011, a court sentenced the US citizen to 15 years in prison for “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.” Gross argued that the equipment was designed to facilitate Internet access by the Jewish community in Cuba.
Havana has tried to negotiate the release of Gross in a possible swap for five Cuban citizens imprisoned in the United States since 1998 on charges “conspiracy to commit espionage.” Washington refuses to link the two cases.