A U.S. contractor accused by Cuba of plotting to “destroy the revolution” was convicted of crimes against the state Saturday and sentenced to 15 years in prison, prompting protests from the White House and fury in Miami.
The Associated Press reported from Havana that a Cuban court said that prosecutors had proven that Alan Gross was working on a “subversive” program paid for by the United States that aimed to bring down the Cuban government. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year jail term during the two-day trial that ended last Saturday.
The White House, which has called on Cuba to release Gross since he was arrested in December 2009, called Saturday for his “immediate release,” saying the sentence “adds another injustice to Alan Gross’ ordeal.
“He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council. “We urge the immediate release of Mr. Gross so that he can return home to his wife and family.
Gross was arrested and jailed in Havana after he delivered at least one satellite telephone and other communications equipment as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) effort to assist Jewish and other nongovernment groups in Cuba. A string of recent Cuban television reports alleged that the satellite phones for Internet connections were just the latest tactic in Washington’s long campaign to overthrow the communist government in Havana.
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