Cuba to try American for crimes against state security

The People’s Supreme Court of Cuba has set July 22 for the appeal hearing of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, sentenced to 15 years in prison for carrying out actions against the independence of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country.

The Court’s Department of Crimes Against State Security was scheduled to consider the statements of the defendant, sentenced for criminal acts against the “independence or territorial integrity of the state,” the Cuban government said in a statement.

Gross, 61, was tried by The People’s Provincial Court in Havana, which sentenced him on Mar. 11 after “considering that many testimonies, documents, and witness proofs showed his direct participation in Washington’s subversive plan aimed at destroying the Cuban Revolution,” the statement said.

U.S. authorities said Gross, of Montgomery County, Maryland, was working on a USAID-funded democracy-building program when he was arrested in December 2009.

Cuban authorities claim that Gross illegally imported communications equipment to the island.

But Gross said he was working to improve Internet communications for Cuba’s Jewish community. The Cuban Jewish leaders, however, denied any involvement with Gross.

“We again call on the Cuban government to immediately and unconditionally release him,” said Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

“We will continue to use all diplomatic channels to press for his release,” she added. “He should be reunited with his family, and bring an end to his ordeal.”

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