Alan Gross release: US to pay $3.2m to US citizen released from a Cuban jail

The American's family had accused the government of negligence

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The American citizen freed from a Cuban jail last week as part of an historic breakthrough in US-Cuba relations is to receive $3.2m from the government as compensation.

The US government said this week that Alan Gross, who was employed as a contractor by the US Agency for International Development (USAid), will get the money as part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company that employed him at the time of his arrest.

Mr Gross, who was arrested in 2009 while allegedly trying to set up internet networks for dissidents, was freed last week as the US 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 USAid said 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, the Associated Press reported that a USAid spokesman said it was $3.2m. (£2m)

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 Mr Gross.

In November, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit filed against the US government by Mr 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.

Mr Gross was released as part of a prisoner exchange that also saw three members of the so-called Cuban Five released from US custody and returned to Cuba. The intelligence operatives were arrested in 1998 while spying on anti-Castro elements within the Cuban-American community in Florida. Two other members of the Cuban Five had been released earlier.

Cuba also released a Cuban citizen who had spied for the CIA. Rolando Trujillo, a former Cuban Interior Ministry cryptographer, was set free from a Cuban prison where he had spent almost 20 years.

The shift in US-Cuba policy could mark a victory for both President Barack Obama, who has long talked of improving ties with a country various administrations have denounced as a terrorist regime, and Cuban leader Raul Castro. The CIA tried to kill his brother, Fidel Castro, the founder of the Cuban revolution, on at least half-a-dozen occasions, one plot involving efforts to poison his beloved cigars.