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Cuba Says Jailed U.S. Contractor Has Received 'Dignified Treatment'

Image: Vigil Held At White House To Call For Release Of American Imprisoned In Cuba
Supporters hold signs to call on bringing home of U.S. citizen Alan Gross who is currently being held in a Cuban prison, during a rally at the Lafayette Park outside the White House December 3, 2013 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong / Getty Images

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Cuba defended its imprisonment of Alan Gross, a jailed USAID subcontractor who announced Tuesday he is on a hunger strike to protest his treatment by both the U.S. and Cuban governments.

Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, the Director General of Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the U.S., released a statement saying that the Cuban government was concerned about the announcement by Gross.

She said that the Cubans were willing to seek a "solution" to the case which would also address their concerns over the fate of three Cuban prisoners "who continue to be unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for more than 15 years."

Ferreiro added Gross "has received a decent and dignified treatment."

In 2011 Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for seeking to "undermine the integrity and independence" of Cuba. Cuban President Raul Castro has also called him a spy.

When he announced his hunger strike, Gross said through his attorney that he was "fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments."

Image: Vigil Held At White House To Call For Release Of American Imprisoned In Cuba
Supporters hold signs to call on bringing home of U.S. citizen Alan Gross who is currently being held in a Cuban prison, during a rally at the Lafayette Park outside the White House December 3, 2013 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Associated Press broke a story last week on USAID's creation of a "Cuban Twitter" to try to foment civil unrest in the island, which has led to hearings in Congress on the program. The revelations have drawn renewed attention to Gross' plight.

In an exclusive interview with Newsweek released Wednesday, a former top Senate aide to Secretary of State John Kerry alleged that "aggressive 'regime change' projects in Cuba" by USAID had scuttled a chance to free Gross.

Fulton Armstrong said that Cuba had given "signals" they would agree to Gross' release provided the U.S. drop some "regime change" programs, but that die-hard USAID officials scuttled the looming deal by continuing to work on these kinds of programs.

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