Cuba sentenced Jewish American aid contractor Alan P. Gross to 15 years in
prison on Saturday for engaging in “subversive” activities, a decision which was
strongly condemned by Washington.
Gross had been arrested by Cuban
authorities last year and charged with secretly delivering satellite phones to
the Jewish community on the island and entering the country on the wrong
Conference of Presidents calls for Cuba to free Alan Gross
“We deplore this ruling,” Philip J. Crowley, the State Department
spokesman, was quoted by the media as saying.
“Alan Gross is a dedicated
international development worker who has devoted his life to helping people in
more than 50 countries.
He was in Cuba to help the Cuban people connect
with the rest of the world.”
“Today’s sentencing adds another injustice
to Alan Gross’s ordeal,” Tommy Vietor, the US National Security Council
spokesman said in a statement. “He has already spent too many days in detention
and should not spend one more. We urge the immediate release of Mr.
so that he can return home to his wife and family.”
Several Jewish groups
including the Conference of Presidents of Major North American Organizations and
the American Jewish Committee have petitioned Havana since his arrest, calling
for his immediate release.
Gross, 61, was convicted of “acts against the
independence and territorial integrity of the state” for working to set up
clandestine Internet networks for Cuba dissidents using “sophisticated”
Prosecutors sought a 20- year sentence for the
longtime development worker, who has been jailed since his arrest in Havana on
December 3, 2009. US officials had contended from the beginning that Gross was
only setting up Internet access for the island’s small Jewish
Few details of the trial have been released, but the
television report said Gross told the court he had been “used and manipulated”
by DAI, the Maryland-based company that had contracted him to work in
DAI had a contract from the US Agency for International Development
to conduct projects aimed at promoting political change on the Caribbean
Since Gross was arrested, speculation has been rife that he is
being used as a bargaining card by Havana in return for several Cuban spies in