An American contractor imprisoned in Cuba for distributing laptops and communications equipment to members of the Jewish community there may be suffering from cancer, his lawyers said Tuesday.
Alan Gross, 69, has lost 47 kilograms (103 pounds) since being jailed in December 2009 and five months ago doctors detected an unidentified mass under his right arm, they said in a statement.
Gross' lawyers have submitted to the Cuban government an American doctor's review of test results conducted by Cuban doctors that concludes the mass could be a life-threatening cancer, they said.
"A soft tissue mass in an adult who has lost considerable weight must be assumed to represent a malignant tumor unless proven to be benign," radiologist Alan Cohen said in the report.
Cuba has rebuffed requests by Gross' wife Judy to grant Gross release or a break from jail on humanitarian grounds, while proposing a swap for five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States, an outcome Washington has rejected.
"I am incredibly upset by this independent review of Alan's medical records," Judy Gross said in a statement. "Please let us have Alan diagnosed by a doctor of his choosing before it is too late."
Gross' lawyers said Cohen had access to a CD with the Cuban medical reports and to several X-rays taken of Gross during a period between May 9 and June 21.
Cohen notes in the report that some X-rays seem to be mislabeled, with one carrying the name "Alan Phillips" and another the name "Alain Carreras."
The Cuban authorities insisted the mass detected was a hematoma that would be reabsorbed in a matter of months, but Cohen said this had not happened.
"Mr Gross's right-shoulder mass has yet to be properly evaluated and presents a potentially lethal outcome unless fully and properly evaluated with MRI prior to and following contrast and potentially a biopsy, preferably in a facility in the United States, immediately, the report," he said the report.
After his arrest in December 2009, Gross was tried for illegally distributing laptops and communications equipment to the country's small Jewish community under a US State Department contract.
In 2011, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity" of the communist-ruled island.
Last week, a Cuban Jewish leader said Gross looked fit and in good spirits when she visited him at the military hospital.
Adela Dworin, president of Cuba's Jewish Community, and David Prinstein, president of the Patronato Synagogue, spent nearly two hours with Gross in an air-conditioned visitors' room at Havana's military hospital.
Dworin told Reuters that Gross, was "very depressed, angered and frustrated" when she last saw him in May, but this time was smiling and more hopeful about the future.
Gross told them that he fasted on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Adela Dworin, head of Cuba's Jewish Community, and David Prinstein, president of the Patronato Synagogue, spent nearly two hours with Gross in an air-conditioned visitors' room at Havana's military hospital. Gross is serving a 15-year sentence for attempting to create a network of Internet users - outside of the control of the government - whose aim was regime change.
During the nearly two-hour meeting, Dworin said Gross acted as host offering them coffee or tea that was set out on a small table on one side of the room.
She described their conversation as wide-ranging, covering his health, the US presidential election, and Cuban baseball, describing himself as a fan of the Havana team, the Industriales.
Gross, who has already been jailed for two-and-a-half years, said he hoped the U.S. would end its embargo of the island and establish normal relations, reports Dworin, who added, "He said he is enchanted with Cuba and once freed he could return to Cuba along with his wife."
Dworin and Prinstein have been allowed to regularly visit Gross on Jewish holidays.
According to Dworin, Gross is extremely concerned about his mother, who has lung cancer. He told his visitors that he speaks with her by phone but fears he might not get to see her alive. Gross said he has asked Cuban authorities for permission to visit her, promising to return to Cuba to finish serving out his sentence. He has not received a response to his request.