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Senator critical of effort to free US contractor

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News,Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of a Senate oversight panel is criticizing the Obama administration for failing to secure the release of an American contractor who remains imprisoned in Cuba five years after he was arrested.

At a hearing Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont called the project Alan Gross was working on "dumb."

Gross was involved in a secret U.S. program to expand Internet access on the island that was financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Rajiv Shah, who heads the U.S. Agency for International Development, says the U.S. has led an aggressive effort to free Gross.

Leahy has also been highly critical of a separate program to create a "Cuban Twitter" social network. An Associated Press investigation revealed USAID oversaw the creation of the text message-based service, dubbed ZunZuneo.

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