(JTA) — Two Cuban Jewish leaders visited jailed American contractor Alan Gross and said they found him in "good spirits."
Adela Dworin, head of Cuba’s Jewish community, and David Prinstein, president of the Patronato Synagogue and Jewish community vice president, spent two hours with Gross on Sept. 27 in the military hospital where he is imprisoned, according to reports.
The visit was to mark the High Holidays. Gross reportedly told his visitors that he fasted on Yom Kippur, and that he lifts weights and walks daily on the hospital grounds.
Dworin told Reuters that while Gross had been very depressed when she met with him four months ago, he seemed to have a more positive outlook about his future.
Dworin and Prinstein have had regular meetings with Gross in advance of Jewish holidays.
During the meeting, the Jewish leaders reportedly spoke about topics ranging from Gross’ health to the U.S. elections, and of his love for Cuba, Dworin told Reuters.
Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for "crimes against the state." He was arrested in 2009 for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.
Earlier this month, a Cuban Foreign Ministry official rejected claims by Gross’ wife, Judy, that Gross was in ill health and said Cuba was willing to negotiate his release with U.S. officials, reportedly in exchange for five Cuban spies, four of whom remain in jail in the U.S.
Gross reportedly has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest and his family says he is suffering from degenerative arthritis. His mother is dying and one of his daughters has cancer.