Cuba sentences USAID worker to fifteen-year prison term

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A 15-year prison sentence was handed down by a Cuban court to US Agency for International Development (USAID) worker Alan Gross for crimes against the state.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while on a USAID mission intended to promote democracy by distributing satellite communications equipment to Jewish groups; these groups have denied any involvement in the matter. Such equipment, and distributing it, is illegal in Cuba.

According to a Cuban court, Gross's activities were part of "a subversive project of the US government that aimed to destroy the Revolution through the use of communications systems out of the control of authorities."

In response to the decision, a US National Security Council spokesperson said that the "sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross’s ordeal. He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more."

Gross's wife has requested that Cuba release her husband on humanitarian grounds; some political analysts expect this to eventually occur. Gross, aged 61, is reported to have lost 90 pounds while imprisoned since his arrest, and is affected by ulcers, gout, and arthritis.