HAVANA (AP) — Cuba’s Supreme Court has set a July 22 date to consider an appeal by U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of illegally importing communications equipment, state television announced Thursday.

The appeal is the final legal recourse for the 61-year-old from Montgomery County, Md., and after that it would be left to the Cuban government to consider whether to free him for humanitarian or political reasons.

Gross’ daughter and elderly mother both have cancer, and State Department officials and his family have expressed hope that Cuba might release him on humanitarian grounds.

He was working on a USAID-funded democracy-building program when he was arrested in December 2009.

On March 11 he was sentenced to 15 years after being convicted of illegally importing communications equipment.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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