The State Department on Monday called for an end to the "unjustified imprisonment" of Alan Gross in Cuba.
It was the third anniversary of his getting arrested by Cuban authorities.
He was detained for illegally distributing restricted communications equipment to members of Cuba's small Jewish community, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Gross was working as a sub-contractor for the US government's Agency for International Development.
His family says the US government has done nothing to assist him since his arrest.
"There have been some behind the scenes moves," says Peter Kornbluh, who met with Gross last week. "But nothing substantive."
Kornbluh is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
He was visiting Cuba, working on an archive project, when he asked to see Gross and was able to speak with him for four hours.
They met in the Havana military hospital where Gross, 63, is being held.
"The (Obama) administration has essentially snubbed its nose at the repeated calls by the Cubans for talks," says Kornbluh.
"After I met with Gross, I met with Cuban officials, and the message that was conveyed to me was, 'we are willing to sit down and talk with the United States about mutual interests including the Alan Gross case whenever and wherever (the US wants)."
Referring to the case of five Cubans jailed for spying in the United States in the 1990s, Kornbluh says, "Cuba wants to trade Alan Gross for their agents."