Cuba says US hunger striker’s treatment in prison ‘dignified’

HAVANA (Reuters) – A US contractor who has launched a hunger strike while serving a long prison term in Cuba is receiving “dignified and decent treatment” in a hospital ward where he is in stable health, a Cuban official said yesterday.

Cuba’s communist government said it was concerned by a statement from Alan Gross’s lawyer on Tuesday that said his client had begun a hunger strike last week to protest his treatment by both the Cuban and US governments. Gross, 64, is serving a 15-year prison term for trying to start an illegal Internet service for Cuban Jews while working as a subcontractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Cuba has called it a “subversive program financed by the government of the United States” that used illegal, undercover and noncommercial technology.

“Mr Gross has received dignified and decent treatment,” Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s chief Foreign Ministry official for US affairs, said in a statement. “Since his detention, he has been held in a hospital, not because his health requires it, but because there he can be guaranteed specialized attention by highly qualified medical and health staff.”

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