Lawyer for American Imprisoned in Cuba Argues Client Should be Able to Sue US Government 4

FILE - This undated handout photo provided by the Gross family shows Alan and Judy Gross at an unknown location. An attorney for a Gross, who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba, argued before a federal appeals court that his client should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)

FILE – This undated handout photo provided by the Gross family shows Alan and Judy Gross at an unknown location. An attorney for a Gross, who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba, argued before a federal appeals court that his client should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)

By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A U.S. government subcontractor who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over lost wages and legal fees, his attorney told an appeals court Friday.

Alan Gross was working in Cuba as a government subcontractor when he was arrested in 2009. He has since lost income and racked up legal fees, his attorney Barry Buchman told the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. A lawyer for the government argued the claims are based on his detention in Cuba, making him ineligible to sue.

The panel is expected to issue a written ruling on the case at a later date.

A lower-court judge previously threw out Gross’ lawsuit against the government in 2013, saying federal law bars lawsuits against the government based on injuries suffered in foreign countries. Gross’ lawyers appealed.

Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. government’s U.S. Agency for International Development, which does work promoting democracy in the communist country. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Cuba considers USAID’s programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

On Friday, Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson asked a lawyer for the government, Alan Burch, if USAID was still sending people to Cuba. He responded he didn’t know. A USAID spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call Friday.

The Associated Press has previously reported that USAID continued its democracy-building efforts in Cuba following Gross’ arrest, including one program to set up a “Cuban Twitter” and another to send young Latin Americans to Cuba.

“The goal is laudable, but this is a very dangerous thing to do, I think,” Henderson said of USAID sending people to Cuba.

Gross said in his lawsuit in 2012 that he wasn’t adequately trained or warned about the dangers, though he wrote in one report on his work that what he was doing was “very risky business in no uncertain terms.” A 2012 AP investigation also found he was using sensitive technology typically available only to governments.

Gross’ $60 million lawsuit blamed the U.S. government and the contractor he was working for, Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc., for failing to appropriately prepare him. The lawsuit did not say how much each party should pay or how Gross’ attorneys arrived at the $60 million figure.

The Gross family settled with Development Alternatives Inc. for an undisclosed amount in May 2013.

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

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4 comments

  1. Gross should not be suing anyone except himself for being an idiot to fail to recognize that Cuba is not a democracy and no one without permission from the tyranny can establish their own business there.People that travel to Cuba are on their own because the Cuban government is a tyranny that does not respect the freedoms of anyone,nationals from Cuba or tourists.

  2. Here we go again. Alan “Woe-Is-Me” Gross, after ballyhooing not too long ago how he was going to commit suicide, now decided to sue the U.S. government again. This despicable whiner, with double US-Israeli citizenship, denounced the US government prior to his sentencing in the hope of getting a lighter term. He should man up and serve his time with dignity, like so many other political prisoners have done. Somebody give this guy a razor blade.

  3. Mr.Alan Gross is a grown man, he knew the risks he was taking and while everything looked peachy, he was fine with it, and so was his family, who by the way benefited economically from his gigs. Im sure Mr. Gross signed some type of waiver releasing anyone from whatever. I personally believe in the American system meaning that I believe anyone in this country has rights to their rights, however if he signed a release form or confidentiality form, he needs to shut up and man up. He was helping his own people and that is where the focus would be coming from the family. Pressing on the very strong and powerful jewish american lobby groups in DC, but not for an exchange with the cuban3, sorry, 5? The family should be pressing on the fact that he was doing the same type of work we did in Europe during the World War II. Going behind enemy lines to connect the resistance to the outside world. As long as the family keeps on that nagging narrative that he’s a victim and blah blah blah, he will actually have less advocates in his favor. Mr.Gross should say, yes, I was there connecting my people to the outside world and guess what, theres no crime in that. He was there in a peaceful manner which is very different from what the cubans spies do here in America. I grew up surrounded by Cuban intelligence, family members, and they are ruthless,the end justifies the means. Those who are here in America, working in silence on behalf of the Castro regime will do whatever,they are like robots.

  4. In 2003 I wrote a letter condemning my father and other Cuban artists for supporting the shooting without due process of 3 cuban rafters who were fleeing the island. Not long after the letter went public and was published in various news outlets around the world, I was shopping with my daughter, (13 at the time) in Coral Gables, well, a black woman with a child atacked me, and trying to provoke me into a physical confrontation, she was screaming, it was horrifying for my daughter, the black woman in the middle of the attack, said, “this is so you keep writing letters”. The horror on my daughters face kept me silenced for years. Actually, the first time I mentioned this incident was last week. I received a massive attack on my systems and had no choice but to warn the Castro regime, not to touch my family. I sent a letter to my father in Cuba and told him once again, so he can keep supporting them. The only dissidents or opposition members who are not attacked are those who support the lifting of the embargo. I support sanctions, so Im open for attacks.

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