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Posted February 05, 2011 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

The Cuban government has released a statement regarding Alan Gross:

Following an exhaustive investigation, the People’s Provincial Tribunal of the City of Havana has received from the Prosecution preparatory file No. 59/2009 with the accusation of US citizen Alan Phillip Gross for the crime of “Actions Against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State.”

In accordance with Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code, the Prosecution is requesting a 20-year prison sentence for the defendant. The date of the trial will be set shortly.

The US government has been informed of this and duly notified through the diplomatic channels that its consular representatives, Mr. Gross’ relatives and his family lawyers will be allowed to attend the trial. END

Attorney Reaction

Mr. Gross’ lawyer, Peter J. Kahn sees this as a positive step towards resolving the situation “after 14 months in a Cuban prison 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.” END I find it interesting that he sees this as a positive step. I suppose the Cuban legal system is better than the Cuban penal system and at least there will now be some closure.

Questionable Purpose

The detention of Mr. Gross began on December 3, 2009 when he was taken into custody for allegedly distributing satellite telephone equipment in Cuba. The US has said the units were for the Jewish community but the Cuban Jewish community has denied even knowing Mr. Gross.

Encouraging Signs

A senior State Department official told journalists in Havana on January 13 that Washington was “cautiously optimistic” because of what they were hearing from the Cuban government.

Fidel Castro’s Last Move

No one can dispute that Fidel Castro is a brilliant world political strategist. He has forced 11 US Presidents to play his game of international politics and has beaten every one. Fidel has been on the sidelines for the past several years but this Alan Gross case has his fingerprints all over it. Does Raul Castro care about Alan Gross? Perhaps somewhat but I think Raul would rather get this over with and move on with the possibility of better US Cuba relations.

It’s clear to me that for decades Fidel Castro does not want the US Embargo lifted and the long detention of Alan Gross is Fidel’s last move from an old man trying to stay relevant in the international arena.

Raul’s Statement to the US

I suspect that Raul has pushed for this trial and that there will be a quick resolution to the case. So, the next question is what happens after the trial… and assumed conviction?

I think Raul Castro wants to end this situation and that Mr. Gross will be tried (perhaps with much fanfare) then convicted. Public diplomatic pressure from the US will be applied to Raul to either encourage his sentence to be time served with a release to soon follow.

Old School vs. New School

How this plays out MIGHT turn out to be a battle of Fidel vs. Raul ideologies and of course have a negative or positive effect on US Cuba relations.

IF Raul is fully in charge of Cuba then I think Mr. Gross will be sentenced but released on time served = Better US Cuba relations.

IF Fidel is still in charge then you will see Mr. Gross sentenced to 20 years and taken to a Cuban jail = Worse US Cuba relations.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 05, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Tom Diemer of Politics Daily writes:

    “Hope for improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba suffered a setback this week as the White House condemned the island nation’s plan to prosecute an American contractor, apparently suspected of being a spy by the Cubans.

    We’ll see how this plays out but I’m leaning towards a speedy, positive resolution to the Alan Gross case and that this “20 year sentence” comment is simply political posturing and not a serious cause for concern.

    Also, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the announcement “compounded an injustice suffered by a man helping to increase the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people. and that Gross has “unjustly detained and deprived of his liberty and freedom for the last 14 months,” President Obama’s spokeman said. He should be released “so he can come home to his wife and family.”

    Of course he has to say this in order to let Fidel have his last stand.

    So, should be interesting times between now and the Communist Party Congress in April.



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  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 06, 2011 by bernie with 199 total posts

    I am curious about how this gross person was a
    able to obtain a license to travel to Cuba from the
    OFAC???  The jewish community claims not to know him, so who is bullshi—ing whom????


  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 24, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Jeff Franks from Reuters is reporting that Alan Gross will face trial in Cuba on March 4.

    U.S. spokeswoman Molly Koscina at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said Cuba had notified the United States of the trial date, but gave no further details.

    She said U.S. officials would attend the trial, which experts have said would likely be conducted by a panel of judges. Cuban trials typically last only a day or two, they said.

    Alan Gross’ family will be able to attend too.

    According to Larry Luxner, former Governor Bill Richardson believes that US Cuba relations cannot improve until the Gross case is resolved.

    During his most recent trip to Cuba, in August, Richardson, who 10 years ago managed to secure the release of three prisoners from Cuba, specifically lobbied the Castro regime to free Gross.

    Richardson said that the latest development isn’t necessarily bad news.

    “On the one hand, it’s good that the prosecution has moved forward with this charge of 20 years that is totally absurd. At least the judicial process has been started,” he explained in response to a question.

    “The next step is for the courts to hand out whatever sentence emerges. My hope is that the court says ‘Mr. Gross, you can go,’ and that there’s a political process involved. My understanding is that after charges have been filed, the court is obligated to move fairly soon, but this case has become very significant with the American public, with the Obama administration, and rightly so.”

    Richardson added: “If they let Gross go, it will open a huge panoply of potential discussions that will lead to continued progress. Without talking about a quid pro quo, the last good move was the president’s [relaxing of] travel restrictions. Hopefully someday, there’ll be a total lifting of the travel ban so everybody can go to Cuba. I believe the Cubans are moving in that direction by settling it with this charge.”



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  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 26, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations appeals for release of Alan Gross.



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  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 27, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Frances Robles of the Miami Herald is reporting that Cuban attorney, Ms. Nuris Piñero Sierra, will be representing Alan Gross at his trial set to begin on Friday March 4.

    What is interesting is that she is also the attorney who has represented the Cuban Five.

    Apparently foreigners arrested in Cuba cannot have their own counsel but can only choose a Cuban lawyer from the Guild of Specialized Legal Services or the Consultoria Juridica in Cuba.

    There are only a very few law firms in Cuba.



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  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 03, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Paul Haven of the Associated Press writes a great summary about the upcoming Alan Gross trial set for tomorrow and its potential impact on US Cuba relations.



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  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 07, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    More information from Prensa Latina

    Gross had the idea to employ sophisticated technologies to create clandestine communication networks out of the control of the Cuban authorities to feed counterrevolutionary provocations.

    The transmissions would be addressed to young people, universities, cultural and religious centers, women and racial groups.

    Gross recognized that he was used and deceived by the Development Alternative Inc, a company contracted by the U.S. government agency USAID, which is subordinated to the U.S Department of State.

    The U.S Department of State is responsible for supporting political destabilization programs against governments that are favored by the White House in Latin America and in many other parts of the world.

    The defendant accused DAI of putting him in peril and of leading him to the current situation, ruining his life and the economy of his family.

    During the hearing the defendant made a free statement and answer the questions the prosecutor asked regarding his crime.

    It was taken into account the statements of 10 witnesses, of nine experts who presented 26 reports, the report of the instructor, in addition to abundant material and documentary evidence submitted by the prosecutor’s office.



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  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 13, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    CNN

    American contractor Alan P. Gross has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the Cuban state.

    Gross, 61, was found guilty of working on a “subversive” U.S. project intended to undermine the Cuban government by distributing illegal satellite communications equipment, according to Cubadebate, a state-run website in Cuba.

    The United States has said that Gross was helping the island’s small Jewish community connect to the internet.

    The verdict comes on the heels of last week’s two-day trial in Havana. The Cuban prosecution had been asking for a 20-year sentence.

    “The Gross family is devastated by the verdict and harsh sentence announced today by the Cuban authorities,” defense attorney Peter J. Kahn said in a written statement. “Having already served a 15-month sentence in a Cuban prison, Alan and his family have paid an enormous personal price in the long-standing political feud between Cuba and the United States.”

    Kahn pledged to “continue to work with Alan’s Cuban attorney in exploring any and all options available to him, including the possibility of an appeal.” He has called for the contractor’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds.

    U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor quickly responded to Saturday’s ruling, saying that it “adds another injustice to Alan Gross’s ordeal.”

    “He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more,” Vietor said. “We urge the immediate release of Mr. Gross so that he can return home to his wife and family.”

    Gross’ wife, Judy, attended the trial with her attorney. Three U.S. officials also attended as observers. His mother has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and their daughter is recovering from a double mastectomy.

    Gross has been held at the high-security Villa Marista prison after being detained at Havana’s international airport in December 2009.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Friday that Gross had been “unjustly jailed for far too long.”

    “He needs to be able to leave Cuba and return home,” Clinton said. “This is a matter of great personal pain to his family and concern to the U.S. government.”

    His detention and subsequent sentencing have brought an apparent standstill to tentative efforts by both countries to overcome years of hostility.

    Gross had been working for Development Alternatives Incorporated, a Maryland-based subcontractor that received a multimillion-dollar U.S. contract for democracy-building efforts on the island nation.

    He had repeatedly traveled to Cuba using a tourist visa.

    “We are profoundly disappointed by today’s verdict and sentence,” said DAI President and Chief Executive James Boomgard.

    “Alan Gross has been accused of doing nothing more than giving peaceful people access to the internet,” Boomgard said, adding that his detention has been “without the benefit of due process and in violation of international law.”

    Boomgard has asked Cuba “in light of the critical medical situation confronting Alan and his family” to release Gross on humanitarian grounds.

    Last year, the topic of Gross’ imprisonment prompted one of the highest-level diplomatic exchanges between the two countries in recent years.

    During the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela spoke with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in a meeting intended to “encourage the release” of Gross.

    Cuba is one of a handful of places—including Iran and Myanmar—where the U.S. funds what it calls democracy-building initiatives without the host country’s permission.

    END

    If DAI’s CEO was so concerned about his employee, perhaps his company could have helped Judy Gross financially. According to the AP Judy Gross has been forced to sell the family home in Maryland and move into a small apartment in Washington.

    What a great employer… send your employee into Cuba on a US funded mission to bring sophisticated satellite equipment into Cuba then abandon his family when he gets caught.



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