Cuba to hear appeal for jailed contractor

Cuba’s Supreme Court has set a July 22 date to consider an appeal by U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of illegally importing communications equipment, Cuban state television said last week.

The appeal is Gross’ final legal recourse, and after that it would be left to the Cuban government to consider whether to free him for humanitarian or political reasons.

Gross, 61, of Maryland, was working on a USAID-funded technology program within Cuba’s Jewish community when he was arrested in December 2009; Jewish leaders denied dealing with him. On March 11 he was sentenced to 15 years after being convicted of illegally importing communications equipment. — ap