U.S. government subcontractor Alan P. Gross is “not doing well” after 4 1/2 years in a Cuban prison and has vowed that he will “return to the United States before his 66th birthday, dead or alive,” his lawyer said today.
“He told me yesterday emphatically that May 2, which marks his 65th birthday, will be the last birthday that he marks in Cuba, one way or the other,” attorney Scott Gilbert said in a telephone interview from Havana with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
Asked what Gross meant, the Washington attorney said, “Alan means that he does not intend to endure another year of this solitary confinement and that he will return to the United States before his 66th birthday, dead or alive.”
Gross’s family later issued a statement quoting the prisoner as saying that his vow that May 2 will be his last in Cuba “means what it means. It’s not a threat, it’s a statement of hope, a statement of determination and a statement of impatience.”
Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence for violating Cuba’s national security by delivering satellite phones to island Jews so they could bypass government controls on the Internet. Havana alleges the equipment, paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is part of a USAID effort to undermine the communist government.
Gilbert said Gross “is not doing well” because he has lost 110 pounds – the last 10 in a hunger strike earlier this month – and spends 23 hours a day in his pajamas in a small room with two other inmates.
He is allowed out for one hour a day to exercise in a courtyard and his food is “limited, and mediocre,” the attorney said. Gross is being held in a Havana military hospital.
Read more at the Miami Herald Cuba.