Cuba willing to discuss case of jailed US citizen

Updated: 2012-09-13 11:04


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HAVANA - The Cuban government said Wednesday it was open to discuss with US officials the case of jailed American contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba for allegedly aiding anti-government forces.

Cuban officials said they were expecting a response from Washington regarding Gross, who was imprisoned in Havana after being found with satellite communications equipment purportedly destined for anti-Castro groups on the island.

"Cuba reiterates its willingness to have dialog with the government of the United States to find a solution to Mr Gross' case," Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry's director of US affairs, said Wednesday, adding "we are still waiting for an answer."

Cuba's announcement came in the wake of statements made by Gross's wife, Judy, after visiting her husband last weekend and finding him in frail health.

"He has lost 47.7 kilograms and developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade," she said in a statement issued by the defense counsel representing her husband.

Havana confirmed Mrs Gross had visited her husband on three occasions, but the Foreign Ministry insisted that he is in a "normal" condition.

"Mr Gross' state of health remains normal and he regularly exercises vigorously," the statement said.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 at Havana's international airport, while trying to bring in telecommunications equipment banned in Cuba.

The Cuban Supreme Court sentenced him 15 years in prison in 2011, on charges of violating "the independence and security of the Cuban State."

The US government said that Gross was hired to deliver communications equipment to the Jewish community on the island to provide them with Internet access. But according to Cuban officials, the community already had official Internet access long before Gross began making trips to the island.