Torture in Cuba
November 2012
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Posted on Tuesday, 11.27.12

U.S. rabbi: Jailed American in Cuba Alan in good


The Associated Press

HAVANA — A prominent New York rabbi and physician visited an American

subcontractor serving a long jail term in Cuba and said the man is in

good health, despite his family's concerns about a growth on his right


Rabbi Elie Abadie, who is also a gastroenterologist, told The Associated

Press in an exclusive interview following Tuesday's 2 1/2-hour visit at

a military in Havana that he personally examined Alan Gross and

received a lengthy briefing from a team of Cuban physicians who have

attended him.

He said the 1 1/2-inch growth on Gross's shoulder appeared to be a

non-cancerous hematoma that should clear up by itself.

"Alan Gross does not have any cancerous growth at this time, at least

based on the studies I was shown and based on the examination, and I

think he understands that also," Abadie said.

Abadie said the hematoma, basically internal bleeding linked to the

rupture of muscle fiber, was likely caused by exercise Gross does in

jail. He said the growth ought to eventually disappear on its own.

Gross's plight has put already chilly relations between Cuba and the

United States in a deep freeze. The Maryland native was in

December 2009 while on a USAID-funded democracy building program and

later sentenced to 15 years in jail for crimes against the state.

He claims he was only trying to help the island's small Jewish community

gain access.

Gross's health has been an ongoing issue during his incarceration. The

63-year-old, who was obese when arrested, has lost more than 100 pounds

while in jail.

Abadie, a rabbi at New York's Edmund J. Safra Synagogue, said Gross's

weight is appropriate for a man his age and height.

Photos that Abadie and a colleague provided to AP of Tuesday's meeting

with Gross showed him looking thin, but generally appearing to be in

good spirits.

In one photo, Gross holds up a handwritten note that says "Hi Mom."

"He definitely feels strong. He is in good spirits. He feels fit, to

quote him, physically. But of course, like any other person who is

incarcerated or in , he wants to be free. He wants to be able to

go back home," Abadie said.

Gross's family has repeatedly appealed for his release on humanitarian

grounds, noting his health problems and the fact that his adult daughter

and elderly mother have both been battling cancer.

Jared Genser, counsel to Alan Gross, said late Tuesday that Rabbi Abadie

is not Gross's physician and he would like an oncologist of his choosing

to evaluate him.

"While we are grateful Rabbi Abadie was able to see Alan, we have asked

an oncologist to review the test results to determine if they are

sufficient to rule out cancer. More importantly, if Alan is so healthy,

we cannot understand why the Cuban government has repeatedly denied him

an independent medical examination by a doctor of his choosing as is

required by international law," said Genser.

Gross and his wife recently filed a $60 million lawsuit against his

former Maryland employer and the U.S. government, saying they didn't

adequately him or disclose risks he was undertaking by doing

development work on the Communist-run island.

They filed another lawsuit against an insurance company they say has

reneged on commitments to pay compensation in case of his wrongful


Separately, a lawyer for Gross 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 medical care.

Rumors have been swirling in U.S. media that Cuba might soon release

Gross as a gesture of good will or in the hopes of winning concessions

from the administration of Barack Obama, but Abadie said that

those reports appeared to be false.

"As far as I know there is no truth to it," he said.

Abadie said he met with senior Cuban officials who expressed their

desire to resolve the case "as quickly as possible," but would not say

specifically who he spoke with or what they offered.

"They claim that they are more than willing to sit at the table," he said.

Cuban officials have strongly implied they hope to trade Gross for five

Cuban agents sentenced to long jail terms in the United States, one of

whom is already free on bail.

Abadie said Gross made clear that he does not want his case linked to

that of the agents, known in Cuba as "The Five Heroes," because he does

not believe he is guilty of espionage.

But Abadie said Gross is hoping for a "constructive and productive"

dialogue between U.S. and Cuban officials to resolve his case.

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