WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top Cuban official said the health of Alan Gross has not deteriorated.
"Gross has been seen by the most qualified Cuban medical specialists," Josefina Vidal, the top Cuban Foreign Ministry official dealing with North America, said in a news conference Wednesday.
Vidal said Gross’s health had "not deteriorated" and accused the United States of "lying" by saying Gross has cancer.
In fact, Gross’ family and U.S officials have said that Cuba has yet to show conclusively that an unidentified mass behind his right shoulder is not cancer.
Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest in December 2009. His family says he is suffering from degenerative arthritis.
Gross was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for "crimes against the state." He was arrested 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.
Vidal rejected continued calls to release Gross, suggesting again that such a deal would only be countenanced should the United States allow five Cuban spies held in U.S. jail to return to Cuba.
Vidal also acknowledged that Cuba had responded to a query from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which is acting on a petition by Gross’ family that says Gross is being held in violation of international law.
In November, Gross’ wife, Judith, sued the U.S. government and the company that contracted his work in Cuba, saying their training was inadequate and a factor in his imprisonment.