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Sunday
Mar062011

Trial Concludes for American Held in Cuba

AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- The trial for American Alan Gross, who has been held in Cuba for more than a year, has ended.

Gross faces a possible 20-year sentence for allegedly bringing communications equipment into the country illegally.

“The matter is now before a panel for decision,” Gross’ lawyer, Peter J. Khan, said in a statement. “The family remains hopeful that Alan will be home soon.”

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley confirmed the trial’s end.

“There is not yet a verdict,” Crowley tweeted. “We hope he will be released and allowed to return to his family.”

On Thursday, the State Department called on Cuban authorities to clear Gross of all charges.

A Maryland native, Gross was detained in December 2009 as he tried to depart Havana's airport.  He had been working as a U.S. government subcontractor distributing communications devices to Jewish communities in Havana, according to U.S. officials. He is accused of "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state."

Gross was working for the Bethesda-based Development Associates International on a USAID program that promotes democracy.  He has been held in Havana's maximum-security Villa Marista prison, most of that time without charge.

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