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American jailed in Cuba loses appeal

A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday rejected a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by an American contractor imprisoned in Cuba who says he was not warned about the risks of working on the communist-controlled island.

Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, filed the $60 million lawsuit in November 2012 for gross negligence against the U.S. government and Development Alternatives Inc., a Bethesda, Md., contractor.

Gross settled with DAI for undisclosed terms in 2013, and a U.S. district court rejected his claim against the government.

The appeals court panel Friday upheld the district court’s finding that the government has sovereign immunity because damage to Gross occurred outside the country.

The lawsuit said Gross, 65, should have received better information and training for his job of increasing Internet access and the flow of communications. Gross was working for DAI under a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Gross has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009. He is serving a 15-year sentence for providing Internet gear to Jewish Cubans under a U.S. program Cuba views as subversive.

The United States says Gross was merely helping the local population get connected as part of a democracy-building project. Information is tightly controlled on the Caribbean island, Internet use is limited, and visitors are not allowed to carry satellite technology.


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