Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuba to seek 20-year sentence against detained American

    Posted on Saturday, 02.05.11

    Cuba to seek 20-year sentence against detained American
    BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
    jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

    A lawyer for a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in for 14
    months praised an announcement Friday that he will soon be brought to
    trial — even though it said that prosecutors will ask for a 20-year
    sentence.

    ' trial date “will be fixed shortly,'' said a Cuban
    government note published on the Web page of the Granma newspaper.
    Prosecutors will seek the long sentence on a charge of acting against
    “the independence or territorial integrity of the State.''

    The incarceration of without charges since Dec. 3, 2009, had
    become a stumbling point in the Obama administration's efforts to
    improve relations with Cuba.

    “We deplore the Cuban government's announcement that Cuban prosecutors
    intend to seek a 20-year sentence against Mr. Gross,'' said State
    Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley. “He should be home with his
    family now.''

    But there have been hints that the case of Gross, a 61-year-old resident
    of Potomac, Md., is moving toward a resolution that would not include
    such a long sentence.

    A senior State Department official told journalists in Havana Jan. 13
    that Washington was “cautiously optimistic'' on the Gross case
    “because of things we hear,'' according to an Associated Press report.

    On the same day, Roberta Jacobson, deputy assistant Secretary of State
    for Western Hemisphere Affairs, visited Gross in his cell, on the
    sidelines of U.S.-Cuba immigration talks that are held every six months.

    Then on Friday, Gross' Washington lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, issued a
    surprisingly affirmative reaction to the Cuban announcement, saying that
    “after 14 months in a Cuban without charge, the fact that Alan
    Gross' case is now moving forward is a positive development.

    “We respectfully urge the Cuban authorities to free Alan immediately
    for time served,'' Kahn added, without making any mention of the 20-year
    sentence.

    In a statement, Kahn said the charge mentioned in the Granma report
    “demonstrates, once again, that Alan is caught in the middle of a
    long-standing political dispute between Cuba and the .''

    The Cuban announcement also said Gross' family, lawyer and U.S.
    diplomats in Havana will be allowed to attend the trial.

    Most reports say Gross went to Havana as a subcontractor for the U.S.
    Agency for International Development to deliver a satellite telephone to
    Cuba's tiny Jewish community so it could communicate with Jewish groups
    abroad. Others say he delivered U.S. aid to “marginalized'' groups —
    dissidents or other non-government organizations.

    Gross also “holds great affection for the Cuban people and culture, and
    neither his presence nor actions in Cuba were ever meant to, or in fact
    did, pose any threat or danger to the Cuban government,'' it added.
    “His work in Cuba had nothing to do with politics.''

    Cuban ruler Raúl and the head of the National Assembly of
    People's Power, Ricardo Alarcón, indicated early in the Gross case that
    he was under investigation for possible spying. But those allegations
    were never repeated.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/05/2051673/havana-vs-gross-moves-toward-a.html