updated 12/12/2009 5:39:28 PM ET 2009-12-12T22:39:28

The Cuban government has arrested an American citizen, and U.S. diplomats in Havana are trying to learn more about the case, the State Department said Saturday.

The American was detained on Dec. 5, State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said. She would not release any more details, including the American's identity, because of federal privacy law.

The American was working as a subcontractor for the Maryland-based economic development organization, Development Alternatives Inc.

Jim Boomgard, DAI's president and chief executive, said the person arrested is part of a new USAID program intended to "strengthen civil society in support of just and democratic governance in Cuba."

"Our prime concern is for the safety, well-being, and quick return to the United States of the detained individual," Boomgard said in a statement. Boomgard said the company is working with the State Department to ensure this is a top priority.

The New York Times reported Saturday the American was distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment in Cuba.

The Obama administration and Cuba have talked about improving relations between the two countries, but progress has been slow.

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