alan gross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
NEW YORK – The Cuban Supreme Court on Friday will hear the appeal of Jewish-American USAID subcontractor, Alan P. Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years in
prison for crimes against the state.
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Gross’s lawyer Peter J. Kahn denied
any wrongdoing on the part of his client in a statement released on Tuesday,
saying he hoped the court will overturn the guilty verdict.
hearing affords Alan another opportunity to reiterate, through his Cuban
counsel, that his actions on the island were never intended to be – and in fact,
never were – a threat to the Cuban government,” Kahn wrote.
remains hopeful that Cuba’s high court will render a decision that will allow
Alan to be released immediately, having already served nearly 20 months in a
Cuban prison for his actions seeking to improve Internet connectivity for the
small Jewish community on the island.”
Gross was arrested in Havana in
December 2009 where he was helping set up a communications center for the local
Jewish community on behalf of USAID.
Authorities accused Gross of
smuggling satellite phones into the country and lying on his visa application in
a bid to subvert the local government.
Last March, a Cuban court found
him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
remains an increasingly difficult situation for the entire Gross family,” Kahn
wrote. “His wife, Judy, will be unable to attend Friday’s hearing in Havana, as
she is recuperating from surgery, while also dealing with pressing family
matters, including a daughter who underwent surgery for breast cancer and a
mother-in-law with inoperable cancer. We continue to call on the Cuban
authorities to release Alan immediately on humanitarian grounds.”