The Cuban Supreme Court upheld a 15-year prison sentence of American aid worker Alan Gross by a lower court after hearing arguments by the defense who said he was simply trying to bring internet to the small communist island nation and meant no harm.  The internet in Cuba is restricted to government officials and approved companies.

The court said that Gross knowingly brought illegal equipment into Cuba to set up internet networks which are banned under Cuban law.  Gross worked for a small U.S. pro-democracy group trying to spread the availability of the internet.  He was arrested on December 3, 2009, and has been in a Cuban prison since.

Cuba has long believed such programs are part of a larger U.S. effort to undermine the Cuban government.

The United States government and family members of Gross have pleaded for a humanitarian release since Gross reportedly has lost over 100 pounds, and his daughter is battling cancer.

There was a brief warming period between the U.S. and Cuba when President Obama relaxed travel and remittances to Cuba, but it has since been overshadowed by new tensions between the two governments.

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