Cuba’s supreme court has upheld the 15-year prison sentence of 62-year-old U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who was convicted in 2009 on charges of setting up unlicensed internet connections, undermining the Cuban government.
Gross was arrested while working for Development Alternatives, a U.S. government contractor tasked with promoting democracy in Cuba, according to The Washington Post. Cuban authorities found Gross guilty of illegally distributing satellite equipment in an effort to establish internet connections. He did lack necessary permits, The Post reports. In response to the Cuban authorities' accusations, Gross said he did not intend to subvert the government and was only trying to help the island’s Jewish community.
Peter Kahn, Gross’s attorney, called on the United States and Cuba to reach a diplomatic resolution to the case, and requested that President Raul Castro of Cuba release Gross as a humanitarian act. The U.S. State Department condemned the ruling in a statement.
Former President Jimmy Carter traveled to Cuba earlier this year to negotiate for Gross’s release.
The Gross case is a setback for thawing U.S.-Cuba relations. In April 2009, President Barack Obama lifted certain travel restrictions to Cuba, and last November, the American Ballet Theater performed there for the first time since 1960.