Wife sees American jailed in Cuba; fears he’ll die

HAVANA (AP) — The wife of imprisoned American Alan Gross said Tuesday she has returned from a trip to Cuba to see her husband, and is fearful he will not survive his long incarceration.

Judy Gross said her husband has developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade, and suffers from degenerative arthritis and other ailments. The mass is not believed to be cancerous.

The 63-year-old Maryland native, who was obese at the time of his arrest in December 2009, has lost 105 pounds while in custody and now appears gaunt in photos released from the Havana military hospital where he is being held.

“I am devastated by his appearance,” Judy Gross wrote in the statement following her return to the United States. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal.”

She begged Cuban President Raul Castro to “put an end to our anguish and let Alan come home.”

There was no immediate reaction from Cuba’s government to Judy Gross’s plea.

Gross’ lawyer, Jared Genser, told The Associated Press that Judy Gross arrived in Cuba on Sept. 5 and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign that Gross is being ill-treated, but the conditions of confinement are difficult for him.

Gross was on a USAID-funded democracy building program when he was arrested at Havana’s Jose Marti airport. He says he was only trying to provide internet service to the island’s small Jewish community.

Cuba says the multi-million dollar programs are a veiled attempt by Washington to undermine the government, and has noted that Gross was carrying sophisticated communications equipment.

He was sentenced to 15 years, and has lost his final appeal, leaving him out of legal options.

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