Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cuba: Update--Imprisoned US Contractor Settles Lawsuit Against Development Alternatives, Inc.

According to EFE,  and as a follow-up to my last posting of February 25, 2013, as well as previous postings, Alan Gross, 64, and his wife, Judith, have settled in a lawsuit against Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Gross' employer who sent him to Cuba on a US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project, only for Mr. Gross to be subsequently sentenced for 15 years in prison for subversion.

USAID contracted with the Maryland-based DAI for a project to expand Internet access and the flow of information in Cuba.

DAI hired Gross to travel to Cuba, where he was detained in December 2009, with satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

The terms of the settlement with DAI, filed Thursday (May 16) with the US District Court in Washington, are confidential and subject to a non-disclosure agreement, a spokeswoman for the Scott Gilbert law firm emphasized.

COMMENT: Alan Gross and his wife, Judith, sued DAI and USAID for failing to inform him in advance about the risks of the Cuba mission and for refusing to pull him out after he expressed security concerns.

The Gross family’s suit against USAID remains pending.

The US government and Gross’s family insist that Gross did nothing wrong and has demanded his immediate, unconditional release. Even pressure from the US Congress has failed.

As it stands now, Mr. Gross will remain in prison until he is nearly 80, unless Washington agrees to exchange him in return for four Cuban intelligence agents being held in the US, which Havana has already agreed to. 

Washington should do the right thing and agree to the exchange, particularly considering that it was the action of USAID and DAI that caused him to end up in a Cuban prison for 15 years to begin with.

As I have said previously, it is unknown as to whether USAID conducted an intelligence threat assessment in analyzing the personal security risks Mr. Gross faced in going to Cuba and engaging in a project that was so politically-charged, at least from the Cuba government's standpoint. 

If such an assessment was not done, it should have been, as it might very well have spared Alan Gross from spending his "Golden Years" in a Cuban prison.