Sun, Feb 06, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Cuba seeks 20-year term for US ‘spy’

AFP, HAVANA

Cuba has requested a 20-year prison term for US contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009 on spying charges, a government statement said, as Washington slammed the move as an “injustice.”

In a statement released through the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Friday, Cuba said Gross was being charged with violating the nation’s “independence and territorial integrity,” and said a trial date will be fixed “shortly.”

The charges against Gross, 61, are in the category of “crimes against state security” and suggest that Havana is taking a hard line in the high-profile case.

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

US President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs saying Gross “has been unjustly detained and deprived of his liberty and freedom for the last 14 months.”

US authorities said Gross worked for a non-government organization contracted by the State Department to supply computer and communications material to civil society groups in Cuba, and that he should be freed.

In other developments, Cuba on Friday released one of the 11 political prisoners who had rejected an earlier offer of freedom only if he accepted exile in Spain.

Guido Sigler, 57, said after being freed that he was with family members at a village 140km east of Havana and that he considering preparations to emigrate to the US.

“Now, I am here at home with my family,” Sigler said. “I will think later about what to do with my life.”

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