In Cuba, US Aid Worker May Face 20-year Sentence

U.S. aid worker Alan Gross and his wife Judy pose for a picture in Jerusalem in the spring of 2005, in this family photograph released on October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Family Photograph/Handout

Cuban prosecutors are expected to seek a 20-year prison sentence for a U.S. aid worker accused of espionage.

Alan Gross was accused of “Acts Against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State,” according to a statement by the Cuban government posted on the Communist Party newspaper Granma. He is allegedly a spy and had illegally imported satellite communications equipment.

The U.S. has defended Gross, saying he was only providing satellite communications equipment and Internet access to Jewish groups in Cuba. But Cuban authorities deemed the program as subversive, Reuters reports.

A trial date for Gross will be set soon. He has been detained since December 2009.

Gross’ attorney Peter Kahn said the charges against his client “were the product of long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations.”

“Alan is caught in the middle of a long-standing political dispute between the United States and Cuba,” Kahn said in a statement. “Neither his presence nor actions in Cuba were ever meant to, or in fact did, pose any threat to the Cuban government.”

Washington-based development consultancy DAI issued the following statement: “Alan Gross has been unjustly imprisoned for more than 14 months without the benefit of due process and in violation of basic rights recognized by the international community. That he should now be threatened with a prison term of up to 20 years - for activities that amount to nothing more than connecting peaceful Cuban citizens to the Internet - is an outrage. We call on principled leaders within our government and in the international community to stand up for Alan and step up their efforts to bring him home to his family.”

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About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.