Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

USAID contractor work in Cuba detailed

AP IMPACT by Desmond Butler Associated Press  February 12, 2012

Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.

The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.

The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.

Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.

Please read the entire story here

February 12, 2012 Posted by | Central America, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alan Gross not among foreign prisoners freed in Cuba

Cuba frees more than 2, 500 prisoners

Free Speech Radio News   December 28, 2011

More than 2, 500 people have been released from prison in Cuba, after a mass pardoning by the federal government

An upcoming visit by the Pope was among the reasons for the release.

Several foreign prisoners were included in the release, but US contractor Alan Gross was not among them.

Gross is serving a 15 year prison sentence, after being convicted of crimes against the Cuban government earlier this year.

A contractor for USAID, Gross was arrested for bringing communications equipment into the country without a permit and has now been detained in Cuba for more than 2 years.

His imprisonment is at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Washington and Havana.

Human rights organizations have criticized the Cuban government’s prison policies, the regime currently imprisons an estimated 70 to 80 thousand people

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuba upholds US contractor Alan Gross sentence

Cuba’s Supreme Court has upheld a 15-year prison sentence imposed on a US contractor accused of crimes against the state.

BBC August 5, 2011

The contractor, 62-year-old Alan Gross, was convicted in March of distributing illegal communications equipment in Havana.

He says he was just trying to help Cuba’s small Jewish community.

The rejection of his appeal is likely to further sour relations between the US and Cuba.

In his appeal hearing last month Gross admitted bringing satellite equipment into the country, but said he never intended to harm the Cuban government.

The Supreme Court rejected his argument, saying he was part of a US government programme aimed at “destabilising” and “subverting” Cuba’s communist system.

Gross’s US lawyer, Peter Kahn, said in a statement that his family was “heartbroken” by the decision, but remained hopeful that there could be a diplomatic solution.

Please read more at the BBC

August 7, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment

US Cuba Programs: The Stuff of Spies?

by Frances Robles McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — To the U.S. government aid workers who he suspected were secret agents, Cuban professor Raul Capote was “Pablo.” He went by “Daniel” with his Cuban government contacts, who were spies for sure.

Now Havana claims that for the six years that he worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on educational workshops and library programs, Capote was a spook, too.

“The man started asking, what materials do you need?” Capote said in an installment of a Cuban documentary series, “Cuba’s Reasons.” “The contacts that came – it was never the same person twice, always someone new – started to buy me what I needed for my work: money, camera, laptop, memory drives, all kinds of gear to pass information.”

Capote is one of the Cuban intelligence agents recently exposed by Havana in its quest to pull the curtain back on one of the most controversial elements of Cuban-U.S. relations: USAID democracy programs. In a series of videos aired on state-run television and posted on the Internet, USAID contractors are shown meeting with alleged members of civil society, establishing libraries, arts workshops, distributing powdered milk and discussing secret electronic equipment.

Please read the entire story here

May 15, 2011 Posted by | State Department, USAID | , , , | Leave a comment

Cuba: Judges convict US aid worker Alan Gross

BBC News Latin America and the Carribean

A US aid worker in Cuba, Alan Gross, has been found guilty of crimes against the state, Cuban television said.

Mr Gross, 61, was arrested in December 2009 accused of setting up illegal internet connections in Cuba under a programme funded by the US government.

Sentencing is not due to be announced for several days, but prosecutors have been seeking a 20-year jail term.

The US has warned that there can be no further easing of relations until he is released.

Please read the entire article here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trial of US contractor enters 2nd day in Cuba

By PAUL HAVEN  Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) – The trial of a U.S. government contractor detained more than a year on charges he sought to undermine Cuba’s government enters its second day Saturday in a case that has worsened relations between the longtime enemies.

Alan Gross, who was arrested in December 2009, stands accused of illegally bringing communications equipment into Cuba for Development Associates International as part of a USAID-backed democracy program.

Cuba says the programs are aimed at overthrowing the government of President Raul Castro. U.S. officials and Gross’ family insist he has done nothing wrong, and say he should be freed on humanitarian grounds in any case. Gross faces 20 years in jail if convicted.

The trial began Friday with about nine hours of testimony in a courtroom in a converted mansion in a once-prosperous neighborhood of Havana. The proceedings were closed to journalists.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

Detained U.S. contractor goes on trial today in Cuba

Havana via TampaBay.com

Detained U.S. contractor goes on trial

More than a man’s fate will be at stake when U.S. contractor Alan Gross goes on trial today on charges he sought to undermine Cuba’s government by bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally. U.S. officials have made clear that no meaningful rapprochement between the two Cold War enemies is possible while the 61-year-old Maryland native remains in jail.

Gross, who was working for Bethesda-based Development Associates International on a USAID program that promotes democracy when he was arrested in December 2009, faces a possible 20-year sentence for “acts against the integrity and independence” of Cuba. His family, and U.S. and company officials say he was bringing communications equipment to Cuba’s 1,500-strong Jewish community. Cuban Jewish groups deny having anything to do with him, and there is even speculation that leaders of the Jewish community might testify against him.  Please see the original here

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. ‘expects’ Richardson to seek release of contractor in Cuba

(Source: The Miami Herald)trackingMIAMI _ The U.S. State Department on Monday said it “expects” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is visiting Havana, to urge Cuba to free a U.S. government contractor jailed for the past nine months.

But a senior Obama administration official said that Richardson, who won the release of three Cuban political prisoners in 1996, “is not carrying a message from the administration.”

A statement by Richardson’s office said he would be in Havana from Sunday to Friday “as part of a mission to strengthen potential trade and cultural partnerships between New Mexico and Cuba.”

“During the visit, Gov. Richardson will help market New Mexico commodities and follow up on inroads made on potential trade partnerships during a visit to Cuba last year,” it added.

Richardson, who has met with Fidel Castro, has at times acted as an unofficial middleman between U.S. democratic administrations and hostile foreign governments. He also has won the release of U.S. citizens held in Iraq, Sudan and North Korea.

A State Department spokesman said department officials met with the governor last week and briefed him on the case of Alan P. Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor jailed in Cuba since Dec. 3.

“As we and others have done, we expect Gov. Richardson to urge the Cuban government to immediately release Mr. Gross,” said Charles Luoma-Overstreet, spokesman for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

The senior Obama administration official e-mailed El Nuevo Herald a statement that was similar, but denied that Richardson is acting as a messenger for the administration.

“As we and others have done, we expect Governor Richardson to urge the Cuban government to immediately release Mr. Gross. He is not carrying a message from the administration,” the official wrote.

Several Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have repeatedly requested that Cuba free Gross, 60, of Potomac, Md.

He was arrested after delivering satellite communications equipment to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community. He has not been officially charged, but Havana officials have alleged that he’s linked to U.S. intelligence activities.

Richardson, who was raised in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish, has long advocated easing U.S. sanctions on Cuba and last visited Havana in August 2009 on another trade mission.

During that visit, he did not meet with Fidel Castro or his brother and successor, Raul Castro. He met instead with Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s parliament and an expert on Cuba-U.S. relations, as well as officials of the foreign and tourism ministries.  Read the entire story here

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment