American imprisoned in Cuba says goodbye to family

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Alan Gross American Prisoner in Cuba Released
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American imprisoned in Cuba says goodbye to family
Alan Gross, speaks alongside his wife Judy, during a press conference after being released by Cuba on December 17, 2014 in Washington,DC. Gross, an American contractor jailed on the communist-ruled island since 2009, was released amid signs of an imminent thaw in ties between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross (L), recently released by Cuban authorities, and his wife Judy (R) arrive for brief remarks during a press conference at his lawyer's office shortly after arriving in the United States December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Following months of Cuban and American negotiations to secure Gross's release, the two nations also agreed to normalize relations after more than 50 years of tension. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross, with his wife Judy, makes a statement to the news media at the law offices of Gilbert LLC after arriving back in the United States December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. A United States Agency for International Develpment contractor, Gross was imprisoned in Cuba for five years on espionage charges after he delivered satellite telephone equipment to Jews living on the island. Gross' release is signalling a new era in U.S.-Cuba relations as President Barack Obama announced a political thawing between the two countries, the first in more than 50 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Alan Gross, smiles during a press conference after being released by Cuba on December 17, 2014 in Washington,DC. Gross, an American contractor jailed on the communist-ruled island since 2009, was released amid signs of an imminent thaw in ties between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross makes a statement to the news media at the law offices of Gilbert LLC after arriving back in the United States December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. A United States Agency for International Develpment contractor, Gross was imprisoned in Cuba for five years on espionage charges after he delivered satellite telephone equipment to Jews living on the island. Gross' release is signalling a new era in U.S.-Cuba relations as President Barack Obama announced a political thawing between the two countries, the first in more than 60 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Alan Gross, alongside his wife Judy, waves as he leaves a press conference after being released by Cuba on December 17, 2014 in Washington,DC. Gross, an American contractor jailed on the communist-ruled island since 2009, was released amid signs of an imminent thaw in ties between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks Wednesday from the Cabinet Room, at the White House, in Washington, D.C., regarding the thaw in Cuba - U.S. relations. (White House)
RT @ChrisVanHollen: .@SenatorLeahy, Sen. Flake and I meet Alan Gross at the airport in Cuba to bring him home http://t.co/mqXH3pDa9K
President Obama speaks with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, in a photo released by the White House. (The White House / Pete Souza)
Sen. Ben Cardin, Alan Gross, Judy Gross http://t.co/ZrW1HavQ4F
Here's Alan Gross on our flight from Cuba as the pilot announced we had entered U.S. Airspace. http://t.co/AVvb7FEMN9
FILE - In this Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, shows jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba. The mother of an American man who was imprisoned in Cuba while working to set up Internet access there has died. The family of 92-year-old Evelyn Gross said Wednesday that she died in Plano, Texas. She had suffered from lung cancer. Gross’ son Alan Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009. The Maryland man had been working covertly in Cuba as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development. (AP Photo/James L. Berenthal, File)
Alan Gross. Back on U.S. soil. http://t.co/Ut5jvdQGg2
Alan and Judy Gross. Together again. Just before leaving Cuba this morning. #alangross http://t.co/cdIlIkYfF3
Rene Gonzales, the first liberated cuban spy, on his way to greet the last three released of the #cuban5 http://t.co/HGwDmUofWJ
.@JohnKerry embraces #AlanGross as he lands at Andrews AFB on his return home from #Cuba http://t.co/3VI6DXCpLy
Judy Gross, wife of imprisoned U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, gives an interview in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Gross is in Havana to visit her jailed husband. The wife and lawyer of Alan Gross who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba said Wednesday they fear for his life even more after his mother's death from cancer last week. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
Judy Gross, wife of imprisoned U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, lisitens during an interview in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Gross is in Havana to visit her jailed husband. The wife and lawyer of Alan Gross who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba said Wednesday they fear for his life even more after his mother's death from cancer last week. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
FILE - In this file handout photo provided by the Gross family shows Alan and Judy Gross. Forty-four senators have written to Cuba's president to call for the release of a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba for almost three years. The one-page letter released Tuesday is signed by 34 Democrats, nine Republicans and independent Joseph Lieberman. It says that the detention of Alan Gross is a major obstacle to improving relations between Cuba and the United States. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)
FILE - In this 2005 file handout photo provided by the Gross family, Alan and Judy Gross are seen in Jerusalem. A lawyer for Gross, a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba for more than two years says his client's health is worsening and that country is withholding the results of medical tests performed on him there. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)
FILE - This two-picture combo handout file photos provided in June 2012 by Peter Kahn, the attorney of imprisoned American Alan Gross, shows Gross in 2009 and in 2012. Gross, a 63-year-old U.S. government subcontractor from Montgomery County, Md., has been in prison in Cuba since late 2009. An independent physician has reviewed medical records sent by Cuba and the doctor says Gross may have a cancerous growth on his shoulder, contradicting the Cuban government's stance that his health is normal. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Peter Kahn, File)
In this photo taken Monday Dec. 26, 2011 and provided to the Associated Press by Adela Dworin, American government contractor Alan Gross, center, poses for a photo with Cuban Jewish leaders Adela Dworin, right, and David Prinstein at the Finlay military hospital in Havana, Cuba, during a visit with Gross to celebrate the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Gross, sentenced to 15 years in jail earlier this year, was accused of working for an USAID program aimed at bringing about regime change on the island. He was not included in a massive prisoner amnesty announced by President Raul Castro last week.(AP Photo)
Judy Gross, wife of Alan Gross, an American imprisoned in Cuba, right, takes part in a rally to support her husband, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, outside the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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By JESSICA GRESKO

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 Monday that his client "has withdrawn" and told him "life in prison is not a life worth living." Gross has previously said through his lawyer that his 65th birthday, which took place in May, would be the last one that he "celebrates in Havana, one way or the other."

Gross said goodbye to his wife and youngest 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 U.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, a 2012 AP investigation found. Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Now, Gross has stopped exercising and his health is not good, said Gilbert, his attorney, who plans to visit his client this week. His hips are failing and he has lost most of the vision in his right eye. Gross' "emotional deterioration has been severe," Gilbert said, particularly following the death in June of his 92-year-old mother.

Gross and his mother talked frequently by phone, and when Gross went on a nine-day hunger strike in April it was his mother who persuaded him to end it. Gross had asked the Cuban government to be able to return to the United States for her funeral, but the request was denied.

Gross' wife, Judy Gross, said in Monday's statement that she has never seen her husband in such bad shape during the time he has spent in prison. She wrote that "his decision to say goodbye to us was wrenching."

Gross is also now refusing to see officials from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy since the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.

The statement from Gross' lawyer came as an Associated Press investigation found the Obama administration deployed young people to the island to stir political dissent under the guise of civic and health programs, putting those foreigners in danger.

Cuban officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement from Gross' lawyer.

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