Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Gross accepted project in Cuba without knowing risks, lawyer says

    accepted project in Cuba without knowing risks, lawyer says

    US CUBA | 14 de diciembre de 2012

    Washington, Dec 14 (EFE).- The U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, a

    in Cuban since 2009, was no James Bond, just someone who undertook a

    project without knowing what the risks were, but convinced that if any

    problems should arise, the United States and the company that contracted

    him would come to his aid, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told Efe.

    Now 63, Gross was detained in Havana three years ago in possession of

    satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among

    Cuba's Jewish community under a contract with a firm hired by the U.S.

    Agency for International Development.

    Gross and his wife Judy filed a $60 million lawsuit last month against

    USAID and contractor DAI for allegedly failing to inform Alan of the

    risks associated with the mission or provide him with protection.

    "The State Department has said publicly in the press that they knew that

    Alan was being sent to Cuba with devices that were in Cuba …

    how can the U.S. government send a civilian to Cuba knowing that?"

    Gilbert said during an extensive interview at the offices of his

    Washington law firm.

    Havana says Gross was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting

    subversion on the Communist-ruled island. Last August, Cuba's highest

    court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on the American five

    months earlier.

    U.S. officials and the Gross family demand his unconditional release,

    insisting that Gross did nothing wrong and is a humanitarian worker

    dedicated to Jewish causes.

    Gross made five trips in 2009 – he was during the last one on

    Dec. 3 – and according to the lawsuit, in his reports on the third and

    fourth trips he had started sounding the alarm about what a high-risk

    mission this was.

    "I can tell you categorically that Alan Gross did not expect to be

    apprehended or detained in Cuba or spend one night in custody," Gilbert

    said. "For Alan, it's been a Kafka-like experience every step of the way."

    "When Alan raised concerns about the trips they essentially said to him

    either you finish this project or we'll find somebody else to do it,"

    the Gross family attorney said.

    "Alan believed they (USAID) were looking out for him and that they would

    never let him get into a situation where direct harm would come to him,"

    Gilbert added.

    "I believe that Alan is a very idealistic individual, idealistic to the

    point of being even potentially somewhat naive," the lawyer said,

    insisting that "USAID and DAI never should have approved this project in

    the first place."

    "They violated their duties to Alan (and) their own rules," Gilbert said

    of the defendants in the suit.

    In parallel to the lawsuit, another Gross attorney, Jared Genser, is

    collaborating with public relations efforts and a campaign to pressure

    the U.S. and Cuba to sit down and negotiate a solution.

    The Gross family is asking President Barack Obama to designate a special

    envoy with full authority to negotiate with Cuba.