|CNN.com, 05-08-2011, By Shasta Darlington,||
Cuba's highest court upholds verdict on jailed American
NEW: State Department calls on Cuba to release Alan Gross
Cuba's highest court was Gross' last legal recourse
He says he was trying to help connect the Jewish community to the Internet
The case has plunged U.S.-Cuba relations to a new low
Cuba's highest court upheld the 15-year sentence imposed on American contractor
Alan Gross for trying to set up illegal Internet connections on the island,
state media reported on Friday.
Gross, 62, was jailed in December 2009, when he was working as a subcontractor
on a U.S. Agency for International Development project aimed at spreading
democracy and deemed illegal by Cuban authorities.
"The Supreme Court ratifies the sentence against U.S. citizen Alan Phillip
Gross," according to state-run website Cubadebate.
The Cuban government accused Gross of smuggling satellite equipment into the
country to set up an Internet network for dissidents "to promote destabilizing
activities and subvert constitutional order."
Gross says he was trying to help connect the Jewish community to the web and was
not a threat to the government.
The appeals trial was held last month, although the verdict was only announced
on Friday. It was Gross's last legal recourse.
Gross's lawyer said his family was "heartbroken" by the decision.
"Alan and the entire Gross family have paid an enormous personal price in the
long-standing political feud between Cuba and the United States," Peter J. Kahn
said in a statement.
"Now, more than ever, we call upon the two countries to resolve their dispute
over Alan's activities diplomatically, and request that President Raul Castro
release Alan immediately on humanitarian grounds."
The case plunged U.S.-Cuba relations to a new low after signs of thawing when
President Barack Obama took office. The State Department has said no progress
will be made until Gross is released.
"We deplore the ruling of the Cuban Supreme Court upholding the conviction of
imprisoned U.S. citizen Alan Gross," said Mark Toner, acting spokesman at the
State Department, in a statement.
Cuba should release Gross "immediately and unconditionally to allow him to
return to his family," Toner said.
"The United States remains focused on and concerned about the welfare of Alan
Gross. We will continue to use every available diplomatic channel to press for
his immediate release," he said.
Former President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba earlier this year and tried to secure
the aid worker's release on humanitarian grounds, arguing that Gross's mother
and daughter are battling cancer. But he went home empty-handed.
U.S. officials say they hope the Cuban government will consider releasing Gross
early now that the courts have had their say.
IRP: Joodse gemeenschap helpen ..? Waarom de joodse?
Zie veroordeling van Amerikanen die met Cuba zaken doen, of er naar toe gaan.
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