Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    American imprisoned in Cuba sues ex-employer, US

    Posted on Friday, 11.16.12

    American imprisoned in Cuba sues ex-employer, US

    By JESSICA GRESKO

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — An American imprisoned in Cuba for nearly three years is

    suing his former Maryland employer and the United States government for

    $60 million, saying they didn't adequately him or disclose risks

    he was undertaking by doing development work on the Communist island.

    Alan and his wife Judy sued Friday in federal court in Washington.

    The lawsuit alleges that the economic development company Gross was

    working for in Cuba and the U.S. government, with which the company had

    a contract, failed to provide Gross "with the and training

    that was necessary to minimize the risk of harm to him."

    Gross, 63, was in December 2009 while on his fifth trip to Cuba

    as part of a project to increase the availability of access in

    the country. He was working as a subcontractor for Development

    Alternatives Inc., an economic development company based in Bethesda, Md.

    The company, known as DAI, was working for the U.S. government agency

    that provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide, the U.S.

    Agency for International Development. USAID has been criticized by Cuba

    for seeking to promote democratic change on the island, and Cuba says

    its programs are a veiled attempt by Washington to undermine the government.

    The lawsuit alleges that Gross expressed concern about his project

    several times but was pressured by DAI to "finish the project or to find

    someone else who would." When the U.S. government learned of Gross'

    concerns, officials also did nothing, the lawsuit says.

    A spokesman for DAI said Friday the company was reviewing the lawsuit

    and would comment after finishing a review. State Department spokeswoman

    Victoria Nuland said Friday she was not aware of the lawsuit and had no

    immediate comment.

    "This is very risky business in no uncertain terms," Gross wrote in a

    report to DAI after a third trip to the island in 2009, the lawsuit says.

    He repeated the same sentiment in a report after his fourth trip,

    writing essentially the same sentence in bold.

    Gross' wife Judy, who now lives in Washington, has previously said that

    her husband feels he was misled by DAI. Judy Gross said in a 2011

    interview with The Associated Press that her husband wanted reassurance

    that what he was doing was legal, but the company refused to contact

    Cuban officials and refused to let him contact anyone either.

    The Cuban government tightly controls access to the Internet in the

    country. Most access is dial-up and goes to an island intranet, rather

    than the full worldwide web. According to government statistics, only

    2.9 percent of islanders had direct Internet access last year. The true

    figure is probably between 5 and 10 percent considering under-the-table

    sales of dial-up minutes.

    Gross was tried in a Cuban court on charges of crimes against the state

    and sentenced to 15 years in in 2011. In previously released

    testimony from the trial Gross called himself a "trusting fool."

    "I was duped. I was used. And my family and I have paid dearly for

    this," he said.

    Diplomatic efforts to win Gross' release have so far failed.

    "At this time, there are no indications that Mr. Gross will return to

    his family within the next decade," the lawsuit says.

    Gross' has also declined in prison. He has lost more than 100

    pounds and earlier this year developed a mass behind his right shoulder

    that an American doctor has said should be assumed to be cancerous

    unless proven harmless.

    Gross' lawyer in the lawsuit, Scott Gilbert, said Friday in a written

    statement that the conduct of the government and DAI was "an utter

    disgrace."

    Also on Friday, Gross and his wife filed an approximately $10 million

    lawsuit in federal court in Maryland against the New Jersey-based

    Federal Insurance Company. DAI had purchased an insurance policy from

    the company that included a "wrongful detention policy" that covers

    Gross' imprisonment in Cuba.

    The lawsuit says the company breached its contract by failing to pay

    expenses of the Gross family that are covered by the policy including

    legal fees and medical expenses. The lawsuit also says the insurance

    company has paid $2.3 million of the $5 million policy limit, some of it

    to DAI.

    Follow Jessica Gresko at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

    Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Matthew Lee in Washington and

    Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/16/3100752/american-imprisoned-in-cuba-sues.html