Hillary Clinton cautious on US contractor jailed in Cuba

Last Updated: Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:38

Washington: The United States is seeking to avoid moves that could jeopardise a US contractor from being released from Cuba after receiving a 15-year prison sentence, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"We are working closely with Alan Gross`s attorneys... We don`t want to take any actions or say anything that will undermine the chances for this man to come home to his family," Hillary Clinton said, according to a transcript of a Spanish-language Telemundo interview.

Cuba on March 12 found Gross responsible for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity" of the country, saying he was covertly distributing laptops and cellular phones on the island.

Calling the 15-year sentence "deplorable," Hillary Clinton insisted Gross was in the Cuba "to help people literally connect with the rest of the world," according to the transcript.

The contractor, who was arrested in late 2009, has already "served a very long time for doing what was not in any way criminal, in our view," the top US diplomat said.

"He should be released, and at the very least, on humanitarian terms. He should be sent home to his family, and I`m hoping that the Cuban government will do that."

Cuba`s verdict further strained the communist-ruled nation`s long-strained ties with the United States, as Washington decried the jailing as "another injustice" and called for his immediate release.

Gross, 61, was working under contract for the US State Department when he was arrested for distributing the electronic devices to members of the island`s small Jewish community.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, March 21, 2011 - 11:38
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