A Potomac, Md. man imprisoned in Cuba for nearly three years and his wife are suing his former employer and the United States government for $60 million.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in D.C. on Monday by Judy and Alan Gross, alleges Bethesda-based Development Alternatives Inc. and the U.S. government failed to advice, train and protect Alan Gross.
"There's no way he would have gone if he thought that this was dangerous," says Judy Gross.
Alan Gross, who is now 63 years old, was arrested in December 2009 while on his fifth trip to Cuba.
The trip was part of a project by DAI to help increase the availability of Internet access to the Jewish community in the country. Judy says Alan was excited.
"This one he thought was perfect for him because it was work with the Jewish community, which he loves," she says. "He loves the Cuban people and the country of Cuba."
But Judy says over time, Alan became increasingly concerned about some problems. She says his bosses at DAI pressured him to stay on.
"He had fears," says Judy. "I'm not sure what they were, but he thought things weren't right, and their response back was ‘Well, if you don't think you can do this, please find someone who could finish it."'
Judy says she believes DAI ignored Alan's concerns so they could continue to make money. She also believes the U.S. government used Alan as a pawn in their overall Cuba policy initiative.
Alan Gross has been in a Cuban prison for three years, serving out a 15-year sentence for what the Cuban government says was spying.
DAI issued the following statement on Friday:
"The DAI group is disappointed that the lawsuit was filed, calling Gross ‘a colleague and friend whom we respect."'
"As much as we would like to address the numerous disagreements we have with the content of the complaint, the fact is that doing so will not advance the cause of bringing Alan home, which remains our highest priority," said Steven O'Connor, director of communications for DAI, in a statement e-mailed to CNN. "We are confident that we will have a chance to tell DAI's side of this story in due course."
Judy says Alan's health continues to fail. He has lost 100 pounds since he's been imprisoned and may possibly have a cancerous growth.