Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba: US aid worker Alan Gross's trial ends

Mr Gross and his wife in Jerusalem
Image caption Mr Gross's wife Judy has pleaded for his release on humanitarian grounds

The trial of US aid worker Alan Gross for crimes against the state in Cuba has ended, with the verdict yet to be formally announced.

There was earlier confusion over the wording that concluded the trial, with suggestions Mr Gross was convicted.

The US diplomatic mission on the island confirmed no verdict had been declared.

Mr Gross, 61, was arrested in December 2009 accused of setting up illegal internet connections in Cuba under a programme funded by the US government.

Prosecutors have been seeking a 20-year jail term.

The US has warned that there can be no further easing of relations until he is released.

On Friday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again demanded his unconditional release.

"He's been unjustly jailed for far too long," Mrs Clinton said.

Additional blows

Mr Gross was in Cuba working as a contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on a programme aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba.

His work involved distributing internet and satellite communications equipment to Jewish communities in Havana.

Such activity is outlawed and considered subversive by Cuba's communist authorities.

The trial in Havana lasted two days.

If Mr Gross is convicted he can appeal against the sentence in Cuba's highest court.

Mr Gross was said to have looked gaunt in court on Saturday - his wife says he has lost 90lb (41 kg) in jail.

Judy Gross has pleaded with the Cuban government for her husband's release on humanitarian grounds.

Her 6ft (1.83m) American husband suffers from gout, ulcers and has developed arthritis in prison.

His family has suffered additional blows.

Mr Gross's 26-year-old daughter found out she had breast cancer after his arrest, and underwent a double mastectomy in February. That same month, his 88-year-old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Mrs Gross has been allowed to visit her husband in prison once, amid protests from the Castro government that the families of five Cuban spies detained in the US for over a decade have not been extended the same courtesy.

Mr Gross had worked on development projects in places including the Palestinian territories, Kenya and Gambia. More recently, he helped US agencies and companies with satellite internet access in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he had limited experience in Cuba and may have caught the attention of authorities after travelling there five times in nine months.

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