HAVANA - The US contractor serving a 15-year prison term in Cuba for trying to start an illegal Internet service has gone on a hunger strike to protest his treatment by the Cuban and US governments, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Attorney Scott Gilbert also criticized the United States for further endangering his client Alan Gross by launching a secretive "Cuban Twitter" after his arrest in 2009.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was arrested while trying to establish an online network for Jews in Havana. In 2011, a Cuban court sentenced Gross to 15 years in prison.

When Gross learned recently that USAID launched a social media project in Cuba after his arrest, it was "the final straw" that prompted him to begin a hunger strike last Thursday, Gilbert said in a statement.

Gross told Gilbert he would continue his hunger strike "as long as it takes," the lawyer said.

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