Cuban top court to hear appeal of US-Jewish contractor

Alan P. Gross sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
July 21, 2011 04:20
1 minute read.
Alan Gross and his wife Judy in Jerusalem, 2005.

alan gross_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)

 
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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.

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.

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“Friday’s 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.

“The family 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.

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Last March, a Cuban court found him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

“Alan’s incarceration 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.”

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