Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuban prisoner settles lawsuit against Md. company

    Posted on Thursday, 05.16.13

    Cuban prisoner settles lawsuit against Md. company
    By JESSICA GRESKO
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — An American imprisoned in Cuba settled a lawsuit Thursday
    against the company he was working for when arrested, a lawsuit that
    claimed he wasn’t properly warned about or prepared for the risks of
    working in the communist nation.

    Alan Gross and his wife filed the lawsuit in November against the U.S.
    government and Bethesda, Md.,-based Development Alternatives Inc., a
    contractor for the government’s U.S. Agency for International
    Development. The $60 million lawsuit claimed Gross should have been
    provided with better information and training for his work setting up
    internet access points in Cuba.

    Lawyers for DAI and the U.S. government had previously asked a judge to
    dismiss the lawsuit. One of the lawyers’ arguments was that federal law
    barred the lawsuit because it was based on an injury suffered in a
    foreign country.

    Gross, 64, was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 on his fifth trip to
    work with Cuba’s Jewish community set up internet access points.

    Gross was working for DAI under a contract with USAID, which does work
    to promote peaceful democratic change on the island. Cuba considers
    USAID’s programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine the communist
    government, and court documents show Gross took steps to avoid detection
    and believed he was engaged in “very risky business.”

    A Cuban court subsequently convicted Gross of crimes against the state
    and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

    Lawyers filed a notice of the settlement Thursday in federal court in
    Washington. The settlement amount was not disclosed, and the agreement
    only covers Development Alternatives Inc., also known as DAI, not the
    government.

    DAI’s chief executive officer said in a statement that settling the
    lawsuit, in which neither party admits fault, allows the company to work
    together with Gross’ family to bring him home.

    Gross’ wife Judy, who has traveled to Cuba on several occasions to see
    her husband, said in the same statement that the family is “very pleased
    that DAI has committed to help address the injuries sustained by our
    family.”

    “We want Alan back home, safe and sound,” she said.

    Diplomatic efforts to win Gross’ release have so far failed, and the
    case has been a sticking point in improving ties between the two
    countries, which have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1961.
    The Cuban government has linked Gross’ case to that of five Cubans
    convicted of in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South
    Florida as well as exile groups and politicians.

    Cuban officials have suggested they would be willing to free Gross in
    exchange for the men. Four of the men remain in prison in the United
    States. One man who completed his sentence but was serving probation in
    the U.S. was recently allowed to return to Cuba permanently.

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

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/16/3401588/cuban-prisoner-settles-lawsuit.html