WASHINGTON — A lawyer for an American who has spent more than four years imprisoned in Cuba said Monday that his client cannot take life in prison much longer and has said his goodbyes to his wife and a daughter.
Alan Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009 while working covertly in the communist-run country to set up Internet access. His attorney, Scott Gilbert, said in a statement that his client "has withdrawn" and has told him that "life in prison is not a life worth living." Gross had previously said through his lawyer that his 65th birthday, which was in May, would be the last one that he "celebrates in Havana, one way or the other."
Gross said goodbye to his wife and younger daughter during a visit in July. Gross, who lived in Maryland before his arrest, had previously told his two daughters not to come see him in prison.
At the time Gross was arrested, he was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's Agency for International Development, which promotes democracy on the island. He had traveled repeatedly to Cuba on a mission to expand Internet access using sensitive technology typically available only to governments, an investigation by the Associated Press found in 2012.
Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the United States to undermine its government. Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Gross has stopped exercising, and his health is not good, said Gilbert, who plans to visit his client this week. He said Gross' hips are failing, and he has lost most of the vision in his right eye.
Gilbert said Gross' "emotional deterioration has been severe," particularly since the death of his mother in June. The two had talked frequently by phone.