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Alan Gross sentenced to 15 years in prison; US slams it 'another injustice'

13 march 2011, 02:32
The United States said Cuba had committed "another injustice" in sentencing a State Department contractor to 15 years in prison for attempting to undermine the government, AFP reports.

"Today’s sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross’s ordeal," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

"He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more. We urge the immediate release of Mr Gross so that he can return home to his wife and family," he said.

A Cuban court handed down the sentence on Saturday against Alan Gross, an American accused of setting up a secret information network with cellphones and laptops distributed to members of Cuba's small Jewish community.

The Popular Provincial Tribunal found Gross responsible for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity" of Cuba, according to a statement read on state-run television news.

The court took into consideration information showing "direct participation of the US contractor in a subversive project by the United States government to try to destroy the revolution," the statement read.

During the trial, the defendant "acknowledged that he had been used and manipulated" by the US Agency for International Development, which financed Gross's company.

Gross, 61, was working under contract for the US State Department when he was arrested in late 2009 for distributing cell phones and computers to members of the island's struggling Jewish community.

A two-day, closed-door trial in Havana on Gross's case concluded March 5.

Five Cubans are imprisoned in the United States for the past 12 years on espionage charges. But Washington has rejected trading the jailed Cubans for Gross.

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