HAVANA - Cuba on Friday disputed charges that jailed American contractor Alan Gross is in declining health and demanded an end to what it called “a "campaign of fabrications" implying that he is being mistreated.
The government issued a statement in response to allegations by his lawyer and the US government that Gross, 63, was suffering from a variety of worsening conditions about which the Cubans were withholding information.
"“Mr. Alan Gross' health is normal. He has chronic conditions typical of someone his age, and is being properly treated for them," the statement said.
“"He is eating healthy, balanced meals. His general state of good health can be seen by the fact that he is maintaining a considerable exercise program," it continued.
On Thursday Gross's lawyer Peter Kahn said his client had a “mass on his back shoulder and difficulty walking because of a bad hip, and that Cuba had not provided thorough medical reports.
Also on Thursday, the US State Department said it was “extremely concerned about Gross' physical decline and worsening state of depression.
Gross, jailed in Cuba since December 2009, is serving a 15-year sentence for illegally providing Internet equipment and service to Cuban Jewish groups under a US program promoting political change that the Cuban government considers subversive.
His arrest stalled a brief period of progress in US-Cuba relations that have been mostly bad since Cuba's 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power and turned the island communist.
Cuba said in its statement that it regularly provided confidential health reports to the US government and the Gross family, but threatened to “"publish abundant information" on his condition if the “"distortions" about his health continue.
"Cuba demands that this campaign of fabrications ceases," the statement said.
It appeared to say that things could be worse by pointing out that Gross is being held in a military hospital instead of a prison “"not because his health requires it, but to ensure for him the best conditions."
The Cuban government has refused requests for Gross to be allowed to return to the United States to visit his 90-year-old mother, who has lung cancer. His daughter also has cancer.