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Cuba sentences Maryland man to 15 years in prison; White House, Miami lawmakers furious

From AP: A Cuban court on Saturday found U.S. contractor Alan Gross guilty of crimes against the state and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, a verdict that brought a swift and strongly worded condemnation from Washington.

The court said prosecutors had proved that Gross, 61, was working on a "subversive" program paid for by the United States that aimed to bring down Cuba's revolutionary system. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year jail term.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the sentence a "deplorable attack on freedom" and called on the Obama administration to halt the new travel to Cuba licenses issued earlier this week.

"With Mr. Gross' sentencing, the Castro regime has effectively demonstrated the hopeless and dangerous naiveté of this Administration's policy toward the regime," Rubio said. "Mr. Gross is simply a humanitarian who was seeking to help the Jewish community in Cuba access the internet, and he deserves to be freed and reunited with his family at once."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called the conviction a "shameless act by a desperate regime" that "will use anything and anyone, including a United States citizen, to wage its propaganda war against all those in Cuba demanding freedom, and all those responsible nations around the world who stand up for the oppressed Cuban people."

"The Cuban regime is incapable of turning over a new leaf. Regardless of how the regime attempts to depict itself, we all know that behind any facade it is rotten to the core.

"The U.S. and all responsible nations must demand not only the release of Mr. Gross, but of all those wrongly imprisoned in Castro’s dungeons.  We must increase pressure on the regime until the basic rights, freedoms, and dignities of the Cuban people are respected."

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