AP Exclusive: US Rabbi Visits Jailed American, Reports He Is In Good Health 3

By Associated Press,AP Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 9:58 PM

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 shoulder. 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 hospital 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, adding that the American no longer wants Cuban doctors to conduct a biopsy. “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 arrested 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 Internet 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.” 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.

Gross and his wife recently filed a $60 million lawsuit against his former Maryland employer and the United States government, saying they didn’t adequately train 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 detention. 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 President 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.



  1. Leaving aside rumors and speculations about Gross’ possible release, there is only one lesson to be learned. The letter written by Gross’s lawyer to the UN anti-torture expert charging Cuban communist authorities with what amounts to torture if he continues to be denied medical care, has had a spectacular result: a rabbi who is also a physician was allowed to visit a political prisoner and was briefed on his condition by Cuban doctors.

    Unfortunately, not all Cuban political prisoners have Alan Gross’s international standing or some one to write the the UN committee for the prevention of torture so they suffer in silence in jail and this has been going on for over 50 years.

    It is clear that Raúl Castro´s regime is trying to avoid losing face internationally and the more international pressure is brought to bear on this regime, the greater will be the concessions they will be forced to grant ALL Cuban political prisoners, not just Alan Gross. Therefore, Cuba´s independent lawyers have a daunting task before them.

    Sergio Klein
    Jerusalem, Nov 28, 2012

    • Mr Klein,you are right.My father spent a decade in a Cuban prison named “Boniato” where most of his friends died in a firing squad,he was in a cell ,no comunication ,no showers no light,for 6 months for refusing to wear the uniform the Cuban authorities were giving to common criminals because my father was a political prisoner who fought Castro,after he served his decade in prison there they forced him for 15 years of hard labor cutting sugar cane to allow him to fill a request to come to the US.Actually he suffers from extreme case of Post Traumatic stress disorders for all the beatings and torture he endured and he is dying of Cancer for the Same reason and he is happy to have come to the US to live here and to die in freedom .In front of the Public opinion the Cuban Authorities will probably be treating Mr Gross very well but when he is away from the public opinion and the cameras,”Stand by” is a totally different game

  2. I always have said that the truth will come out after Castro regime collapses and all these people that have been murder over 53 years of repression are recover from their common grave where the Communist buried them.

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