alan gross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Jailed Jewish-American aid contractor Alan Gross told Cuba's supreme
court on Friday he had no intentions of hurting the Cuban government or
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Gross, who was found guilty of undermining the state
last February and sentenced to 15 years in prison, said he was thankful
for the opportunity to appeal the verdict and denied the charges
"We remain hopeful that the ruling
from Cuba's Supreme Court is one that will allow Alan promptly to be
reunited with his family after having served nearly 20 months in a Cuban
prison," Peter J. Kahn, who represents Gross in the US, said
on Friday. "At the same time, we continue to call on the
Cuban authorities to
consider Alan's difficult family situation and release him immediately
on humanitarian grounds.
Gross was sent to Cuba by USAID, a US governmental relief agency,
to help set up a communications center for the local Jewish community in
Havana. He was arrested while leaving Cuba in late 2009 on charges of
smuggling forbidden satellite phones and lying in his visa application.
Cuba claims Gross was part of a covert operation organized by the US
to undermine the local government.
At the hearing on Friday,
attorney Nuris Pinero told the court that his client's arrest was
neither warranted by law or the facts.
Since his arrest observers have speculated Cuba may be using Gross
as a bargaining chip to obtain the release of several of its citizens
held by the US on charges of espionage.