HAVANA (AP) — An American man imprisoned in Cuba on charges of crimes against the state was being tracked by island authorities since 2004 and traveled there at least five times in 2009 to set up sophisticated wireless Internet networks, according to a purported leaked court filing.
The document, the most detailed account so far laying out prosecutors’ case against Maryland resident Alan Gross, gives blow-by-blow descriptions of the man’s work with Cuban Jewish communities to establish independent, satellite-based wireless networks in synagogues in three cities.
U.S. and Cuban officials would not say whether the document is authentic. It was posted this week on the U.S.-based blog Cafe Fuerte, which did not reveal its source.
But Gross’ U.S. lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, called it evidence that his client, who has acknowledged working with the Jewish community on Internet connections, is innocent of trying to undermine the island’s communist-run government.
“This document is further confirmation of what we have said all along — the Cuban authorities cannot point to any action by Alan P. Gross intended to subvert their government,” Peter J. Kahn said in a statement, without explicitly confirming the document’s authenticity.
“The trial evidence cited in the document confirms that Alan’s actions were intended to improve the Internet and Intranet connectivity of Cuba’s small, peaceful, non-dissident, Jewish community,” he said.
The filing, apparently from Gross’ sentencing in which he was given 15 years in prison, contains a detailed account of testimony and evidence presented against him at his March 2011 trial. Among other details, it says Gross came under scrutiny beginning in 2004 and alleges he recruited Americans as “mules” to help him bring restricted telecommunications equipment to the island.
Havana considers U.S. development programs like the one Gross was working on tantamount to attempts at regime change, and the document alleges that the true intent for the wireless networks was subversive.
“The goal (was for) these modern means of satellite communication to be used by the true intended recipients of this ‘Program,’ the members of the internal counterrevolution,” it reads.
As evidence, it cites files recovered from a seized memory stick that allegedly talked about “communicating securely in repressive environments” and mentioned “political activists who operate in non-permissive environments.” It also said Gross told users of the wireless networks he set up not to use their last names in their email addresses.
Gross’ imprisonment has been yet another sore point between Washington and Havana, and the U.S. government has urged Cuban authorities to release him.
Earlier this week Cuba hinted that while Gross was convicted of crimes against the state, it would consider sending him home under the right circumstances.
“The Cuban government has communicated to the U.S. government its willingness to find a humanitarian solution to the case of Mr. Alan Gross on a reciprocal humanitarian basis,” said a letter signed by the deputy chief of mission at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
The message, which was originally sent to The Washington Post in response to an editorial demanding Gross be freed, then raised the cases of five Cuban agents serving long jail terms in the United States, though it stopped short of suggesting outright a prisoner swap.