Latin American Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON – An appellate court in Washington D.C. has rejected a lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by Alan Gross, an American subcontractor who is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba on a conviction for subversion, judicial officials said.
Gross claimed that the government had not alerted him to the risks that his work on the Communist-ruled island entailed.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday upheld a lower court’s finding that the government has sovereign immunity because the damage the plaintiff suffered occurred outside the United States.
Gross and his wife, Judy, filed the $60 million lawsuit in November 2010, accusing the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bethesda, Maryland-based contractor he worked for, Development Alternatives Inc., of negligence.
In the lawsuit, they alleged that neither DAI nor the government warned him of the risks of the Cuba mission and refused to pull him out after he expressed concerns.
The couple reached a settlement with DAI in 2013 for an undisclosed sum but a U.S. district court threw out their suit against USAID, prompting them to bring the case to the appeals court in Washington.
USAID contracted Maryland-based DAI for a project to expand Internet access and the flow of information in Cuba.
DAI hired Gross to travel to the island, where he was detained in December 2009 with satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community. Cuban authorities said Gross was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 15 years.
Havana has suggested an exchange of Gross for three Cuban intelligence agents serving time in U.S. prisons.
The United States rejects talk of a prisoner swap, instead demanding that Cuba release Gross without conditions.