Govt agency agrees to settlement calling for payment to subcontractor freed from Cuban jail

Markets Associated Press

A former subcontractor freed last week after five years in a Cuban jail will receive $3.2 million from the federal government as part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company that employed him at the time of his arrest.

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Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009, was freed Dec. 17 as the U.S. announced it would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century. He had been working there to set up Internet access without local censorship for its small Jewish community, but the Cuban government considered such work subversive and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said in a statement Tuesday that an agreement reached in principle last month with Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland, had been made final this week. Although the statement did not specify the amount to be paid to Gross, a USAID spokesman said it was $3.2 million.

The USAID said in the statement that the agreement would resolve claims pending before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals for unanticipated claims under a cost-reimbursement contract, including claims related to Gross. The USAID spokesman, who was not authorized to be named and requested anonymity to discuss the terms of the agreement, said DAI had sought $7 million. DAI did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The USAID said the settlement "avoids the cost, delay and risks of further proceedings, and does not constitute an admission of liability by either party."

In November a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit filed against the U.S. government by Gross and his wife. They had sued for negligence, arguing that the government sent him into a situation it knew was dangerous. Federal courts said the government was immune from any claim arising in a foreign country.

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Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.