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TMCNet:  Jailed U.S. contractor has no cancer: Cuba

[November 28, 2012]

Jailed U.S. contractor has no cancer: Cuba

HAVANA, Nov 28, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- U.S. contractor Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba for crimes against state security, does not suffer from cancer and is generally in good health, the Cuban Foreign Ministry said Wednesday in a statement.

The statement was issued in light of repeated claims by a U.S.

doctor that a mass of tissue on Gross' shoulder is cancerous.

"A Cuban medical team confirmed that Mr. Gross' health is in general 'normal', and the problems he has, including those chronic ailments typical of his age, he had prior to being imprisoned and they are being properly treated," the ministry said.

The ministry said doctors did a biopsy on Gross' right shoulder and ruled out the presence of cancer.

"The biopsy, though showing relations to a hematoma, was negative for neoplasm cells," the ministry said, adding "the result was immediately reported to Mr. Gross by his physicians." The ministry also stressed that the biopsy, done on Oct. 24, " could not be practiced earlier because of Mr. Gross' refusal." Regarding to Gross' loss of weight while in prison, the ministry said the jailed contractor, who is serving his sentence in a military hospital in Havana, "voluntarily exercises regularly and eats a balanced diet, which have allowed him to get rid of his earlier condition of obesity." The ministry added "Gross also weekly telephones his wife and family, and receives monthly consular visits." Gross, 63, was arrested in December 2009 and accused of illegally supplying opposition groups in Cuba with satellite communications equipment, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Through his lawyers in the U.S., Gross is suing the U.S.

government and the company that contracted him on their behalf for 60 million U.S. dollars, claiming they did not properly inform him of the risks involved in his mission.

Gross' wife has appealed to the Cuban government to release her husband on humanitarian grounds, which Cuba has indicated it would be willing to consider if the U.S. releases five Cubans serving sentences in the U.S. on charges of spying, a suggestion refused by Washington.

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