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Clinton Urges Cuba To Free American In Internet Case

The trial of a U.S. aid contractor begins today in Cuba, where the man had been working to improve Internet access for Jewish organizations. But Cuba says that the work that Alan Gross did for the U.S. Agency for International Development was subversive.

U.S. officials say that after 15 months in captivity, Gross has been held for too long already, and should be released.

From a Newscast report by Michele Kelemen:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's deeply concerned about 61-year-old Alan Gross.

"He's been unjustly jailed for far too long. We call the government of Cuba to release him and unconditionally allow him to leave Cuba and return to his family to bring an end to their long ordeal."

Gross could face 20 years in prison if convicted.

As the BBC reports, the American had been giving out mobile phones and laptop computers while traveling in Cuba on a tourist visa. He also worked to improve Jewish Cubans' access to the Internet.

Gross's wife, Judy, has pleaded with Cuban officials to release her husband, saying that their daughter is fighting cancer, and he is needed at home.

And Tuesday, Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote a piece on Huffington Post urging Cuba to release him on humanitarian grounds.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.