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Since his detention, Gross’ wife said he had lost 100 pounds (45 kg), was battling chronic arthritis pain and had what could be a cancerous tumor beneath his shoulder blade. Gross’ daughter and elderly mother both have cancer.
“The tragedy faced by the Gross family is horrific,” said l Scott Gilbert, lead counsel of Gilbert LLP.
“What is mind-boggling is that this never should have come to pass. The destruction of this family is the direct result of a project approved, overseen and administered by DAI and our government that was flawed from conception and pursued with complete disregard for Mr. Gross’ safety and well-being. It is an utter disgrace.”
Gross was working in Cuba for a U.S.-funded program to promote political change by increasing Internet access and the flow of communications. Cuba views such programs as part of long-standing U.S. attempts to topple the island’s communist government.
USAID has said that Gross’ job was “simply facilitating Internet connectivity to the Cuban people so they could communicate with the rest of the world.”
Cuba says Gross tried to keep his work undercover and was aware of its political aims, according to a leaked court document.
The court said it found evidence on flash drives and a computer confiscated during his arrest that Gross knew more than he admitted and took action to avoid detection, including using American tourists to bring Internet equipment to Cuba without telling them what it was for.
The gear included three satellite Internet terminals, or BGANs, along with BlackBerry phones, iPods and other electronics.
Information is tightly controlled on the Caribbean island, Internet use is limited and visitors are not allowed to carry satellite technology.
During his trial, Gross said: “I did nothing in Cuba that is not done on a daily basis in millions of homes and offices around the world. … I am deeply sorry for being a trusting fool. I was duped, I was used.”