Cuban Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Jailed American

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Cuba's Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal Friday of a U.S. contractor sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the communist state.

Alan Gross was arrested in December 2009 for bringing communications equipment into Cuba.

A lawyer for Gross, Peter Kahn, says the hearing will afford the convicted contractor another opportunity to show that his actions on the island were not intended to be a threat against the Cuban government.

Gross was working for a private firm that was contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was accused of distributing Internet equipment and satellite phones to Cuban dissident groups. Gross said he was just trying to improve Internet access for the island's small Jewish community.

The lawyer says Gross's family is hopeful that the court will render a decision that will allow him to be released immediately.

The United States and Cuba do not have formal diplomatic relations, only interests sections that are technically part of the Swiss embassies in each other's capitals.