Rabbi Elie Abadie visited Gross in Cuba two years ago in Cuba and examined him. And what he found was a healthy man – not a seriously ill, dying man stricken with all sorts of serious illnesses. In other words, Gross, his family and his close supporters lied in a bid to get him freed. But what else did they lie about?
Above: Alan Gross
Rabbi Elie Abadie is the rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Manhattan. He also teaches at Yeshiva University and is a practicing physician who specializes in internal medicine and gastroenterology.
Abadie and a Cuban-American lawyer visited Alan Gross, the American Jewish contractor who was imprisoned in Cuba on espionage-related charges until this morning, two years ago.
Speaking on CNN about 30 minutes ago, Abadie said he was happy Gross had been released.
But he also said that with the permission of the Cuban government, he examined Gross during that visit two years ago.
Gross had lost a huge amount of weight and his supporters claimed he was being maltreated and had was severely ill with several diseases, including cancer.
Abadie found a physically healthy man who did lose a lot of weight – but primarily because he went on a diet he imposed on himself, not due to any malignant illness or maltreatment.
Abadie said that now Gross supposedly has an arthritic condition that seriously limits his mobility. But, Abadie said smiling, he walked down the ramp from the plane just fine.
Many people over the years have asked me why I haven't really covered the Gross' case.
Now you know some of the reasons. Gross, his family and many of his close supporters lied about his health – and, some say, about many other things – to gain sympathy and support.
Gross likely wasn't the naive person he claimed to be any more than he was seriously ill, and much else surrounding his story is probably false, as well.
I'm happy Gross was released nonetheless, and I don't share the stark opposition to the deal that, say, Senator Marco Rubio does.
But I do think that Gross will probably turn out to be no hero, and the deal to free him will in the end likely be much more about Obama's personal legacy than anything else.
Will the Cuban people benefit from what amounts to normalization of relations with Cuba?
We can only hope.