Jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross, who is suing the U.S. government and his employer DAI, has submitted an affidavit in federal court detailing some of his history working in Cuba. It was posted by Tracey Eaton on his blog.
- He “has always disputed, and continues to dispute” the Cuban criminal conviction that resulted in his 15-year sentence.
- He says he never obtained any SIM cards for his satellite Internet installations from any agency of the U.S. government. (His September 2009 memo indicates that he planned to do so; discussion here.)
- He says that his proposal to DAI, which won him the contract, “responded to all aspects” of the company’s request for proposals. Nonetheless, his motivation for working in Cuba was his “personal passion” for helping Jewish communities around the world.
- He says he was unaware that his work implementing the USAID program in Cuba could run afoul of Cuban law. He only learned this after his arrest.
- His project manager at DAI told him to focus exclusively on setting up the equipment and making it work and “not to worry” about “content” to be conveyed; DAI would handle that.
- He says he made no attempt to conceal the equipment that he carried into Cuba from Cuban Customs or from anyone else.
- Recipients of his equipment appreciated it and said it was more useful than anything they could set up on their own, even if funds were unlimited.
- He once saw a Cuban government van equipped with an antenna in a neighborhood where he had installed satellite Internet equipment. He surmises that it was searching for his equipment’s signals.
- His expectation was that if Cuban authorities were to crack down on his activities, they would take his equipment and expel him.
- Before his last trip to Cuba, DAI asked him to propose expanding his activities to “African-Cubans, women, youths, and other religious groups,” and to see if members of Cuba’s Jewish community would provide technical support. The latter request made him “very uncomfortable.”
- Days after his arrest, DAI asked his wife to hand over his laptop so information could be deleted from it. Mrs. Gross agreed and handed it over.