Pro-Democracy Group Working for U.S. Government Says Employee Detained in Cuba

A Washington-area firm issued a statement Sunday confirming that one of its subcontractors is behind bars in Cuba, an arrest that may have resulted from possibly distributing electronics to activist Cubans to communicate with one another on the isolated island nation.

Jim Boomgard, president and CEO of Development Alternatives, Inc., said his company is working closely with the State Department to try and retrieve the detained individual, who was not named or described in any way beyond being a subcontractor.

"Our prime concern is for the safety, well-being, and quick return to the United States of the detained individual. We have been working closely with the State Department to ensure that the detainee's safety and well-being is given top priority," Boomgard said in a written statement.

"The detained individual was an employee of a program subcontractor, which was implementing a competitively issued subcontract to assist Cuban civil society organizations," he added.

DAI has been working for the U.S. government since 2008 to promote democracy in Cuba through a U.S. Agency for International Development Program run out of the State Department.

Boomgard described the work as involving "support for the peaceful activities of a broad range of nonviolent organizations" and helping "the U.S. government implement activities in support of the rule of law and human rights, political competition and consensus building, and to strengthen civil society in support of just and democratic governance in Cuba."

Those are just the type of activities the Cuban government has spent decades fighting.

The contract worker reportedly was handing out cell phones and laptops to activists, which are legal to own in the country, however, usually prohibitively expensive.

What may have gotten the person into trouble was entering Cuba on a tourist visa. However, under Cuban law, people can be arrested for just about anything, including one law that says being "dangerous" is cause for arrest.

As of late Saturday, U.S. officials still hadn't been allowed to see the detained individual.

"We were informed by the Cuban government that an American citizen was detained Dec. 5. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana has requested consular access to meet with the American citizen as soon as possible," the State Department told Fox News.

The State Department would not give out the name of the contractor because the person hadn't signed a privacy waiver.

The arrest comes at a time when the United States had been trying to warm up relations with Cuban President Raul Castro. President Obama had lifted some bans on travel and sending money to Cuban relatives. Congress is considering bills that would lift the travel ban for Americans to visit that country.

Fox News' Caroline Shively contributed to this report.