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American faced 'intense' Cuba questioning

Sept. 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM   |   Comments

HAVANA, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- A U.S. government subcontractor in a Cuba jail faced "very intense" interrogation by authorities before a visit from a U.S. diplomat, diplomatic cables show.

The WikiLeaks-revealed cables, written by U.S. diplomats in Cuba, show Alan P. Gross had been in the Havana jail 25 days before the diplomat's visit and had already met with a Cuban lawyer involved in a case of five Havana spies Cuba is seeking to have freed from U.S. prisons, El Nuevo Herald reported.

The Obama administration has protested Gross's 15-year sentence by a Cuban court for "crimes against the state." Gross, of Maryland, was sentenced in March following his 2009 arrest while working to bring Internet service to Cuba's Jewish community as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development campaign.

Gross, 62, had lost 30 pounds during the 25 days in jail and had been treated "with respect" and not physically abused by Cuban authorities, but interrogations had been "very intense at first" and lasted an average of two hours a day, Gross told the diplomat Dec. 28. He said he had high blood pressure and a duodenal ulcer, the newspaper reported.

His wife said later he had lost 90 pounds.

Gross's arrest led to speculation Cuba wanted to trade his freedom for the release of the five Cubans convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit espionage against U.S. military installations.

The Cuban government says the five were in South Florida to monitor exile militants, the Herald said.

Topics: Wikileaks
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