Jailed American Makes Final Court Appeal In Cuba

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HAVANA (AP) — It’s an unfolding international drama involving a Maryland man.  Alan Gross is locked in a Cuban prison.

As Mary Bubala reports, on Friday he made a desperate plea to the Supreme Court in Havana to set him free.

Gross went from a comfortable life in Potomac, Md. to the harsh reality of a Cuban prison after the government there accused the aid worker of being a spy.

Arrested in December 2009, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. They accuse Gross of bringing satellite and computer equipment into the country illegally.

Cuba authorities believed he was working on behalf of the U.S. government to spread democracy.

“Alan has done nothing wrong and we need him home,” said his wife.

Officials from the U.S. consulate are in court Friday with Gross in Havana while they hold little hope his conviction will be thrown out. They say he could be released on humanitarian grounds.

Gross has lost more than 100 pounds. His 27-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer. His wife is recovering from surgery. His elderly mother is dying. Those hardships, along with intense pressure from U.S. officials, may be enough.

“We call on the government of Cuba to release him,” said Hillary Clinton.

“We want him set free,” said Jesse Jackson.

Former President Jimmy Carter traveled to Cuba, pressuring them to release Gross.

“He obviously professes his innocence as he did in his trial,” Carter said.

It’s not clear when the Cuban high court might issue a ruling following Friday’s hearing. Typically it issues decisions within a couple of weeks.

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