HAVANA (AFP) - A Cuban court could hand down a verdict in the case of Alan Gross, an American contractor on trial as a US spy, as early as Saturday, an official statement indicated. The statement said the trial, which began Friday behind closed doors, would continue on Saturday with the presentation of evidence from documents, experts and witnesses, and closing reports by the prosecutor and the defense. The Cuban press has not reported on the trial, and the official statement was carried only by the state-run Prensa Latina news agency. Cuban prosecutors are seeking 20 years in prison for Gross, 61, who was working under contract with the US State Department when he was arrested in late 2009 for distributing cell phones and computers to members of the island's small Jewish community. He is charged with "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state." A panel of five Cuban judges is hearing the case, which has drawn strenuous protests from the United States and chilled a brief warming in US-Cuban relations that followed President Barack Obama's taking office. Under Cuban law, the judges can hand down a sentence the same day the presentation of evidence is concluded, or it could take longer to deliberate before rendering a verdict. In Friday's session, Gross "testified freely and responded to questions by the prosecutor, the defense and the court on the acts imputed to him," the Cuban statement said. "Also, witnesses were deposed and responded to questions formulated by the parties, while the presentation of expert evidence also was begun," it said. After Gross's arrest on December 5, 2009, President Raul Castro charged he "was involved in illegally supplying sophisticated means of communications to 'civil society' groups hoping to coalesce against our people." "The enemy is as active as ever," he said. A video produced by Cuban state security, which appeared on the Internet, featured an "expert" who asserts that Gross's goal was "to create a technological platform outside the control of Cuban authorities" as part of a US strategy to "articulate a virtual network of mercenaries." The United States has denied the charges, while acknowledging that Gross was working for a State Department contractor, Development Alternatives, to deliver cellphones and computers to members of the island's small Jewish community. "We call on 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," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Washington shortly before the trial got underway. "It is a matter of great personal pain to his family and concern to the United States government," she said. Gross's wife Judy and a family lawyer, Peter Kahn, were present in the Havana court on the first day of the trial, as were US consular officials. In a written statement obtained by AFP, Kahn said that "although Alan and his Cuban legal representative will carry out a vigorous defense, we respectfully urge the Cuban authorities to release Alan immediately taking into account time already served." "Alan's health continues to deteriorate as a result of his drastic weight loss, other physical ailments and the stress and extreme anguish that he continues to suffer" over the illnesses of his daughter and mother, he wrote. Gross's acting defense lawyer is Nuris Pinero, a Cuban who represented the families of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for the past 12 years on espionage charges. Cuba recognizes that the five were its agents, but said they were not spying on the United States, rather on anti-Castro groups in Miami planning violent attacks against Cuba. Washington has rejected a trade of the five Cubans for Gross.