U.S. contractor Alan Gross sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison
Alan Gross, the U.S. aid contractor found guilty last week of undermining the Cuban government, was sentenced in Havana today. Cuban state-run television reported that he is sentenced to 15 years for supplying internet equipment to Cuban dissidents.
He was arrested in late 2009 when he was caught giving satellite telephones and computers to Jewish members of the community as part of a USAID effort. It is illegal under Cuban law for Cuban citizens receive assistance from the U.S., and brands those who do “mercenaries,” according to the Miami Herald.
Cuban officials saw Gross’ actions as an attempt to overthrow Cuban government.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor released a statement soon after the sentencing:
“Today’s sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross’s ordeal. 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.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made remarks to the House Appropriations Committee Thursday, between the end of Gross’ trial and his sentencing. “We deplore the injustice toward Alan Gross. We want him home,” she said.
Gross’ sentencing is sure to be a roadblock in President Barack Obama’s attempts to warm relations with Cuba.