Posted on Sunday, 11.11.12
Lawyer for US man writes UN anti-torture expert
By JESSICA GRESKO
WASHINGTON — A lawyer for an American man imprisoned in Cuba has
written the United Nations' anti-torture expert, saying Cuban officials'
treatment of his client "will surely amount to torture" if he continues
to be denied certain medical care.
The six-page letter made public Sunday is addressed to U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez. In it, a lawyer for former
Maryland resident Alan Gross claims Cuba has not met its obligations
under an anti-torture treaty it agreed to more than a decade ago.
Gross, 63, has lost more than 100 pounds while imprisoned, and earlier
this year he developed a mass behind his right shoulder. Cuban doctors
performed tests, but a U.S. doctor who reviewed them for Gross' family
has said they were inadequate. Dr. Alan A. Cohen, a Maryland
radiologist, said the mass must be assumed to be cancerous unless proved
"The lack of medical clarity given to Mr. Gross by the Cubans has been
causing him severe mental anxiety for six months and counting," wrote
Gross' Washington-based lawyer Jared Genser. "As time goes on, and
depending on the severity of his illness, the denial of medical care
will surely amount to torture."
Genser attached to his letter answers to a U.N. form questionnaire for
people alleging torture. In it, he wrote the torture occurred from May
2012 to the present – the time that Gross has had the mass on his shoulder.
A senior Cuban diplomat, Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal, said
in September that Gross' health "continues to be normal and he exercises
Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba since late 2009. He was working as a
subcontractor on a USAID-funded democracy building program when he was
arrested, and his case has become a source of tension in U.S.-Cuba
He is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. Gross says he was only
trying to provide Internet service to Cuba's small Jewish community.
Cuba says the multimillion-dollar programs are an effort by Washington
to undermine the government, and has noted that Gross was carrying
sophisticated communications equipment.
Gross' lawyer has for months said his client's health is declining, and
he and Gross' wife have called on the Cuban government to let Gross be
examined by a doctor of their choice.
Gross' wife, Judy, was traveling to West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday
for a rally in support of her husband's release. The rally was scheduled
outside a performance of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, which
is currently making its first U.S. tour.
Also on Sunday, Gross' lawyer made public a letter addressed to Cuban
President Raul Castro and signed by more than 500 rabbis. The letter
urges Castro to release Gross, who is Jewish, on humanitarian grounds.
Dec. 3 will mark three years that Gross has been held in Cuba.