Latin America & Caribbean

US contractor Alan Gross ends Cuba jail hunger strike

Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie as he serves a prison sentence in Havana in November 2012 Image copyright AP
Image caption Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in 2009, had been on hunger strike for a week

A US contractor who has been in jail in Cuba for more than four years has ended his week-long hunger strike.

In a statement released by his lawyer, Alan Gross said he suspended his fast because his mother, 91, had asked him to end it, but added that "there will be further protests to come".

Mr Gross, 64, began fasting on 2 April to protest against his treatment by both the Cuban and US governments.

He was jailed for 15 years for taking internet equipment to Cuba illegally.

"My protest fast is suspended as of today," Mr Gross said in the statement.

"There will be no cause for further intense protest when both governments show more concern for human beings and less malice and derision toward each other," he added.

He had stopped eating after his last solid meal a week ago "to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments".

The case of Mr Gross is seen as a major obstacle to better US-Cuban ties. The two countries have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1961.

Mr Gross was arrested in 2009 while working for a firm under contract with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Cuba considers USAID's programmes as illegal attempts by the US to undermine the island nation's Communist government.

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