Alan Gross files appeal in Cuba


(JTA) — Jailed American contractor Alan Gross has filed an appeal of his 15-year prison sentence in Cuba.

Gross, 61, was convicted and sentenced last month for "crimes against the state" for distributing laptop computers and connecting Cuban Jews to the Internet. Cuban authorities detained Gross in late 2009 on his way out of the country, saying he was a spy.

Ruben Remigio Ferro, president of the Supreme Tribunal, told reporters Saturday that the appeal had been filed in recent days by Gross’ attorneys.

 "There is an appeal presented," Ferro said. "It is at the disposition of the judges who are attending the case."

The court has no deadline on which to rule on an appeal.

Gross’ family and State Department officials say Gross 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.

Gross is in ill health. His daughter has breast cancer and his mother was diagnosed recently with cancer, as well.

Cuba and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since the 1960s. The U.S. has economic and financial sanctions in place against the island nation.

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