(JTA) — The trial of Jewish U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, jailed in Cuba for more than a year, has ended and a verdict is expected in the coming days.
Gross’ trial for allegedly perpetrating "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state" finished March 4. Gross, 61, who is in ill health, could face up to 20 years in prison.
His American lawyer, Peter Kahn, said in a statement that "Alan Gross has already served 15 months in a Cuban prison. While Alan and his Cuban counsel presented a vigorous defense today, we respectfully urge the Cuban authorities to free Alan immediately for time served.
"Alan’s health continues to deteriorate as a result of his dramatic weight loss, other physical ailments and the extreme mental stress and anguish he continues to endure. The recent lung cancer diagnosis of his elderly mother and his 26-year old daughter’s ongoing recovery from a double mastectomy have created an even more urgent need for Alan to be reunited with his family. We call upon the United States and Cuban authorities to promptly resolve this matter."
Gross’ wife, Judy, and U.S. consular officials were in the courtroom during the trial before a panel of five judges.
Cuban authorities detained Gross in late 2009 on his way out of the country, saying he was a spy. Gross’ family and State Department officials say he was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country’s 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.
In an official statement read on Cuban television, the court said that Gross "acknowledged that he had been used and duped" by his company, which had a contract with the U.S. State Department, the French news agency AFP reported.