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Clinton Calls for Release of American on Trial in Cuba

VOA News March 04, 2011

The United States has called on Cuba to release an American contractor who is going on trial in Havana for allegedly supplying dissidents with communications equipment.

Speaking to reporters Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Cuban government should release Alan Gross "unconditionally" and allow him to return to his family.

Gross, who has been jailed for more than a year, is going on trial Friday in Havana to face the charge that he violated the "integrity and independence of Cuba."

Cuban authorities accuse Gross of bringing communications equipment into the country to supply Cuban dissident groups. He could face 20 years in prison if convicted.

The trial is expected to last only a day or two and is closed to the media.

Gross was working for a private firm, Development Alternatives International, contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The firm says Gross was working on a project to bring Internet communication equipment to members of Cuba's small Jewish community, and denies he was working with dissidents. The company has since ceased its activities in Cuba.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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