Cuba’s Foreign Ministry says the country is willing to negotiate the release of Alan Gross, the Jewish-American contract worker who was arrested in 2009 on accusations of spying, while bringing communications equipment to Cuba’s relatively small Jewish community. Gross, his family, and the United States government say Gross was in Cuba for no other reason than to supply internet access to those who don’t have it.
“Cuba reiterates its willingness to talk with the United States government to find a solution in the case of Mr. Gross and continues to await an answer,” said Josefina Vidal of who heads the Foreign Ministry’s Office of North American Affairs.
The development in one of the most contentious matters between the United States and Cuba at the moment, comes just days after Mr Gross’s wife said her husband’s health is deteriorating rapidly.
“He’s lost 105lb (47.7kg) and has developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade,” Judy Gross said on Tuesday.
“Alan’s detention is in flagrant violation of international law,” his attorney, Jared Genser, said earlier this week. “It was clear from the court judgment he did nothing wrong and is merely being punished because of the Cuban government’s dislike of the U.S. government.”
Vidal claimed that Gross’s health “continue to be normal, and he regularly exercises vigorously.”
Gross is currently serving a 15 year prison sentence after being convicted of “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the State” in April, 2011.
Senators Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby met with Cuban President Raul Castro in February and offered to take Gross back with them on a plane to the U.S.
“You can imagine how far that went,” Leahy said.
Senator Leahy met with Gross personally and took pictures to send to Gross’s wife back home.
“He obviously wants to leave. He feels that his health has been endangered,” Leahy said.