Alan Gross Sues US Gov. over His Imprisonment in Cuba

November 17, 2012 | Print Print |

Alan Gross

HAVANA TIMES — A lawsuit was filed in Washington yesterday on behalf of US “contractor” Alan Gross, who is imprisoned in Cuba, reported DPA news.

Gross is accusing both the US government and the company that hired him for not having protected him or properly advised him about his duties in work that led to him receiving a 15-year prison sentence on the island.

The lawsuit demands the company that hired him, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), be held responsible, as well as the US government itself, “for its role in the arrest and imprisonment of Gross, including the unfortunate failure to advise, train and protect him” according to a statement from the law firm that filed the complaint at a Washington federal court.

“The destruction of this family is the direct result of a project that was approved, supervised and managed by DAI and our government and that was flawed from the start. This was done with complete disregard for the safety and welfare of Gross,” asserts the lawyer in charge of the suit Gilbert Scott.

“The tragedy faced by the family Gross is terrible. What doesn’t fit is that this is something that should never have happened,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Alan Gross and his wife Judy, both the company that hired him as well as the US government, under whose USAID contract the company acted, “failed when it came to properly inform Mr. Gross — both before and after he began traveling to Cuba — of the risks facing him due to his participation in the project.” The legal document defined that action as a “US government project aimed at increasing access to the Internet among the Jewish community in Cuba.”

The defendants “also failed when it came to taking appropriate measures to protect Mr. Gross.” Among those failures are listed the “lack of education and training necessary to minimize risk or harm, the failure to remove him from Cuba and/or prevent him from returning (to the island), as well as not delaying the project until risks had been reduced.”

The case of Alan Gross, 63, is currently one of the thorniest that hamper improvement in the difficult relationship between Washington and Havana.

Agent Gross was arrested in December 2009 while trying to enter Cuba with illegal advanced telecommunications equipment that is normally available only to the CIA and the US Defense Department.

In 2011, a Cuban court sentenced Gross to 15 years in prison on charges of “violating the independence and security of the state.”

The US claims that the equipment was intended for the Jewish community on the island to give them access to the Internet. Cuba accuses him of trying to use these to support outlawed Cuban opposition groups.

The Obama administration has repeatedly called for his immediate release, if only on “humanitarian” grounds, citing the serious deterioration of Gross’s health as claimed by his family. US officials also point to the advanced cancer suffered by both Gross’s mother and daughter.

“The decision of putting ideology and security benefits ahead of the interests of this US citizen — someone who has major health problems and is in a dangerous and increasingly desperate situation — has left an American family devastated,” decried his lawyer.

So far, the US government has not responed to Gross’s lawsuit.

The possibility of a prisoner swap has been indirectly mentioned on several occasions by Cuban authorities interested in obtaining the release of the Cuban Five, in US prisons since 1998 on espionage charges. The US State Dept. has thus far ruled out any exchange.

 


What's your opinion?

  • Humberto Capiro (El Cibergues@)

    “The possibility of a prisoner swap has been indirectly mentioned on several occasions by Cuban authorities interested in obtaining the release of the Cuban Five”

    Why hasn’t the Cuban “government” been upfront and say they want the swap?? Judging from the fact that they did not allow any international or independent press to be at the Gross trial or subsequent appeals, must mean that their case was not such a “slam dunk”!!! And where are the pictures of this infamous advanced telecommunications equipment?? Would love to see them!

    NPR : In Cuba, Jailed American Alan Gross Faces Trial

    BLOCK: Now, foreign journalists, I understand, are not allowed into the courtroom to cover the trial. You were outside the courthouse today. What were you able to learn there?

    MIROFF: That’s right. He’s being tried in a small municipal courthouse far away from the city center.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134272743/In-Cuba-Jailed-American-Faces-Trial

  • Moses

    Mr.Gross’ arrest and conviction was simply a contrived attempt by Cuba to force the US into a negotiated trade for the five Cuban spies. It obviously didn’t work. Early speculation is that the Gross lawsuit, likewise, is a laudable tactic by the Gross family to force the US to go public with intelligence information regarding Cuba through the due dilligence and depositions necessary to defend the lawsuit. Clearly, the US will resist being subpoenaed and will likely settle out of court. This private settlement will likely include monetary damages AND some kind of written commitment to earnestly press for Gross’ release.

  • Michael N. Landis

    Why hasn’t Gross been traded before now for the Cuban 5 before? Because the tail (i.e. the Cuban-American Dinosaurs in Miami) continues to wag the dog (i.e. U.S. foreign policy)! After all, during the Cold War there were many such exchanges betwixt the Americans and Russians. Also, the Israelis have often traded thousands of Palestinian political prisoners for one or two “I.D.F.” soldiers (of course, in the latter case, one of the reasons is that the Israelis count the lives of the Palestinians for so little). In the end, Gross will continue to be expendable, and will end his days in Cuba. Such is the reality of (Sur-)Realpolitik!

    • Humberto Capiro (El Cibergues@)

      Mark G and Michael N. Landis!! Alan Gross is not a spy, even the Cuban “government” had to admit it so its apples and oranges! And how come he traveled five times to Cuba in 2009 and was never questioned or thrown out?? Now if the Castro brothers would have been transparent and shown the evidence, open the trial to international and independent journalists and proven their case it would be a whole different ball game. What we have here is a simple case of extortion and if the US government gives into it will set a precedence that it cannot afford to make. And Michael, Obama won Florida without the “Cuban-American Dinosaurs in Miami” so that argument you can put to rest!

      N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

      Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

      Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.

      CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/us/politics/senators-meet-with-raul-castro-seeking-release-of-alan-gross.html

      • Mark G

        Humberto, the penalty for spying by foreign nationals is often expulsion from the country, not lengthy prison terms. I am not questioning the guilt of the Cuban 5 spies, only pointing that they have already served lengthy prison terms, with one already being out on parole.

        The US government also has responsibility to Mr. Gross for the situation he finds himself in, as he was working on a USAID funded project. Finally, Mr. Gross was in Cuba under false pretences and not as a regular tourist. As such this is quite a different situation than US nationals working legally as development workers in other countries.

  • Mark G

    The proposition that Alan Gross was somehow not aware that what he was doing was illegal under existing Cuban law stretches credibility beyond reasonable limits.

    Nonetheless, strictly on humanitarian grounds, I fail to see why the US government seems unwilling to exchange some or all of the Cuban five spies for the freedom of Mr. Gross. If the State of Israel can release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for a single Israeli soldier, surely the US government can do the same with a handful of Cuban spies who’ve already served long prison sentences (and in one case is already out on parole).

    • Moses

      Were the US to trade Mr. Gross for any or all of the Cuban spies, it would set a dangerous precedent for the thousands of US aid workers working in foreign countries. Every third world despot would suddenly see these workers as bargaining chips to counter powerful US interests. A new game plan would emerge-arrest and convict an American aid worker and then negotiate with the US for their release. Unfortuneately for Mr. Gross, because theRE are other governments around the world with the same Castro sense of justice, the US State Department must remain stolid in their position against any trades.

      • Luis

        You are so blind that cannot see the Cold War between US and Cuba and in a desperate manner repeat what Condoleezza Rica would say to defend US interests. For you the Cuban 5 are ‘spies’ and agents of the US government in foreign countries are ‘aid workers’. Are you sure you are a Democrat? This is Romney-like thought at its best.

        • Moses

          I will try to get this fact through your “I HATE THE US ” bias filters but yes there are tens of thousands of legitimate US aid workers throughout the world building schools, hospitals, churches, roads, etc. Most do so out of the same sense of human compassion you seem to champion. I am referring to these workers, some of whom are even in your country. To agree with Professor Rice on this issue does not make me any less a Democrat than it makes her any less a Republican. One problem Sociallists always seem to have is that you have to agree with them or you must be against them. Americans love to disagree and yet we are still Americans. I am not blind and you should be smarter than your last comment.

          • Luis

            I do not hate the US. I hate the US foreign policy. There’s a BIG difference here. The fact that a Democrat would agree with a Republican upon this topic really shows us that there’s isn’t much of a difference between the two.

            About aid workers and spies. Alan Gross was contracted by the US government to work in an enemy country. The Cuban 5 infiltrated terrorist organizations in Miami such as Alpha 66. There’s another BIG difference here.

            About the ‘problem with socialists’. I told you about Julio de la Yncera. His ideology was diametrically opposed to mine and we could still debate and learn from each other. Not with you and your bile. There’s another BIG difference here.

          • Humberto Capiro (El Cibergues@)

            Luis !! The Cuban 5 spies did just that, spy! and not just on the Cuban-American community but on sensitive US Government sites!

            At Cuban Government direction, the Cuban spy ring collected and reported information on domestic, political, and humanitarian activity of anti-Castro organizations in the Miami-Dade county area; the operation of US military installations; and other US Government functions, including law enforcement activity. The spy ring also carried out tasks in the United States as directed by the Cuban Government, which included attempted penetration of US military installations, duplicitous participation in and manipulation of anti-Castro organizations, and attempted manipulation of US political institutions and government entities through disinformation and pretended cooperation. The spy ring received financial support from the Cuban Government to carry out its tasks.

            CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE DOCUMENT!

            http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=94546591

  • BA James Kennedy

    Yeah, this guy has forgot that a capitalist society is a “use at your own risk” society. He was the one who went to Cuba, he is the one who should have learned the language, culture, and laws. He should have respected foreign customs. He was at fault, US government doesn’t owe him anything, and Cuba should had every right to detain him for as long as the law dictates.

    Apparently, Mr. Gross forgot which was the socialist country.