In this photo provided by James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. The Maryland-native was imprisoned in December 2009. At the time he was working as a subcontractor on a democracy-building project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. (AP Photo/James L. Berenthal)

Cuba’s government will not release Alan Gross, and says he is in good health

The Cuban Foreign Ministry today strongly rejected U.S. suggestions that jailed American contractor Alan Gross has health issues, including a possibly cancerous growth.  According to the Cubans, their medical team biopsied the lesion and it is benign.

The competing claims about Gross are a backdrop to the stalemate over U.S. and family demands that he be released on “humanitarian” grounds after serving three years of a 15-year sentence following a conviction for importing satellite technology, the Cubans say in violation of Cuban laws.

Their statement was made in Havana today by a senior official, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director of the United States Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. International Press Center, Havana, December 5 2012.

(Non-official translation — Cuban statement) “In recent days we’ve seen the stepping up of false statements and reports by U.S. Government officials regarding the case of American citizen Alan Gross and, in particular, on the alleged deterioration of his health.

“The U.S. Government is lying once again to the public, saying that Mr. Gross has cancer and does not receive adequate medical care.

“These lies have not stopped, even after the results of the biopsy practiced on Mr. Gross’ lesion were delivered to his family and U.S. authorities, which leave no doubt that Mr. Gross does not have cancer.

“A world class medical Cuban team has offered from day one systematic attention to Mr. Gross. This team has the biopsy results and other tests showing Mr. Gross is not suffering from cancer or other disease that might endanger his life. The U.S. has no evidence to prove otherwise. If these misrepresentations are to continue, we would be forced to disclose new evidence.

“The U.S. Government also lies about Mr. Gross’ prison conditions and about his phone calls and visits regime.

“The U.S. Government continues to lie about the reasons that led to the arrest of Mr. Gross, for the sole purpose of avoiding its direct responsibility for the situation that Mr. Gross and his family are going through.

“The U.S. Government has never seriously addressed the case of Alan Gross and just reiterated the unsustainable position that it has nothing to negotiate with Cuba to find a solution to it. Moreover, it insists in demanding that Cuba makes a unilateral decision without taking into consideration our humanitarian concerns related to the case of the Cuban Five. This is unrealistic. Today, I reiterate Cuba’s willingness to immediately establish a dialogue on the Gross case.

“Based on these fabrications and, interestingly enough, coinciding with the anniversary of the arrest of Alan Gross, the U.S. Government put pressure on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council to force a decision declaring arbitrary the detention of Mr. Gross. Today, Cuba denounces these pressures that led to the violation of the usual working procedures and deadlines of this Group.

“Yesterday, December the 4th, the Government of Cuba received the opinion of this Group calling the detention of Alan Gross arbitrary.

“Today we are publishing on the Foreign Ministry’s website the official response sent by Cuba to this United Nations Group, showing that Mr. Gross’ detention does not qualify, in any way, as arbitrary.

“Alan Gross was detained, prosecuted and sentenced with all the guarantees and rights of the due process of law and under the principles related to judicial independence. Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws by committing acts that constitute serious crimes severely punished in most countries, including the U.S.

“The U.S. does not allow another government to break U.S. regulations and illegally send unknown individuals into U.S. territory, with government funding from that other State, to establish illegal and covert communications systems, without any kind of formality or registration, much less so if these actions are intended to destabilize the existing order.

“Mr. Gross has received a decorous and humane treatment since his arrest.

“This UN working group is the one that in May 2005 had declared the detention of the Cuban Five arbitrary, on the grounds that the Five were kept in solitary confinement for 17 months, without proper access to lawyers and the evidence of the case, and because there was a climate of bias and prejudice that contributed to the Five being presented as guilty from a beginning, in the absence of objectivity and impartiality.

“The Cuban Government, once again, invites the U.S. Government to a serious talk about these issues in order to find a humanitarian solution that is acceptable to both sides.”

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