A U.S. contractor jailed in Cuba after being convicted of crimes against the state sued the U.S. government and the company that hired him for $60 million on Friday, blaming them for his imprisonment and not warning him about the risks he faced in the communist-run island.
Alan Gross, 63, has been jailed in Cuba since Dec. 3, 2009, and is serving a 15-year sentence for providing Internet gear to Cubans under a U.S. program that Cuba views as subversive.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, Gross and his wife, Judy Gross, allege that his employer, Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc, or DAI, and the U.S. government “failed to disclose adequately to Mr. Gross, both before and after he began traveling to Cuba, the material risks that he faced due to his participation in the project.”
The suit also charges that DAI and the government “failed to take adequate measures” to train and protect Gross on his trips to Cuba, and that they “ignored Mr. Gross’ repeated security concerns so that DAI could continue to generate significant revenue and the Government could continue to use Mr. Gross as a pawn in its overall Cuba policy initiatives.”
In a separate lawsuit against New Jersey-based Federal Insurance Co in Maryland District Court, Gross and his wife said FIS “has wrongfully refused benefits,” under what the suit cited as “a wrongful detention” clause.
The Department of Justice did not respond to the lawsuit on Friday. “The case is being reviewed,” said spokesman Charles Miller.
A spokesman for DAI said it was preparing a statement to be issued later on Friday. Federal Insurance Co, part of the Chubb insurance group, could not be reached for comment.
Gross, a development worker, went to Cuba five times as a subcontractor for DAI, which had a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
He has said he went to Cuba only to help the island’s Jewish community, not for political purposes, and was working on a U.S. government project intended to increase the availability of Internet access for the Cuban-Jewish community.
The U.S. government has said Gross should not be jailed for providing Internet access to Jews and has repeatedly demanded his release.
The case has put a hold on U.S.-Cuba relations that warmed slightly after President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.