US contractor sentenced to 15 years in Cuba trial

By REUTERS
March 12, 2011 22:19

 
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HAVANA - US aid contractor Alan Gross has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the Cuban state, state-run television reported on Saturday, in the latest setback to relations between two Cold War enemies.

A panel of judges reached the decision after a two-day trial last week in which prosecutors said Gross was involved in what the government described as a US-funded "subversive project" to "topple the Revolution."

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" communications technology.

Prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence for the longtime development worker, who has been jailed since his arrest in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009.

The United States, which has contended from the beginning that Gross was only setting up Internet access for the island's small Jewish community, reacted angrily to the decision.

"Today's sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross's ordeal. He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more," White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

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