United States has arrested a former government official and his wife on
charges of spying for Cuba. The Justice Department says both suspects
pleaded not guilty to the spying charges in a federal court in
Washington on Friday. They are both being held until a detention
hearing next Wednesday. The two are accused of passing top secret
information to Havana over a 30-year period.
U.S. officials said
they arrested Walter Kendall Myers and his wife Gwendolyn after an
undercover operation in Washington. They said Walter Myers worked at
the State Department for nearly 30 years, partly at the department's
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, before retiring in 2007.
said an FBI agent, posing as a Cuban intelligence officer, contacted
the Myers in April and asked them to obtain information for Havana.
During a meeting, officials say the Myers agreed to provide information
about U.S. officials working in Latin America, and they discussed their
past activities on behalf of Cuba.
According to an affidavit,
Walter Myers told the FBI undercover agent that he was recruited after
visiting Cuban officials in Havana in 1978, and later began passing
information to intelligence agents, often in person. Myers said he was
identified as "agent 202," and his wife was known as "agent 123."
officials did not comment on the kind of information the Myers are
accused of passing to Cuba. They say employee records show Walter Myers
accessed more than 200 sensitive reports about Cuba during his final
year of work at the State Department.
Chris Simmons is a former
U.S. counter-intelligence official involved with several recent Cuban
spying cases in the United States. He says Havana is often seeking any
kind of U.S. intelligence, not just about U.S. policy toward the island.
view from Havana is that U.S. classified information is a commodity to
be bought, sold and traded to anyone that can come up with the right
offer," said Simmons.
Simmons helped identify one of the
highest-ranking Cuban spies in recent history, Ana Belen Montes who
worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Montes pleaded guilty in
2002 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The Myers are
facing prison terms of up to 35 years if they are convicted of the
charges against them, which include acting as illegal agents of a
In an affidavit, U.S. officials said
Gwendolyn Myers described her contacts with Cuban agents, such as
passing secrets by exchanging shopping carts at the supermarket.
Authorities say the couple also used short wave radio to take orders
from Havana and to transmit information.
Simmons say Havana has
long relied on short wave radio to send encoded messages using a system
that converts letters into numbers.
"So anybody with a [short
wave] receiver can hear it, but unless you have the encryption packet
all you hear are the numbers. Uno, zero, cinco, cinco," he said.
says Cuba's intelligence agency still prefers short wave radios and
face-to-face meetings over computers and more advanced technology. He
says unlike e-mail, the short wave transmissions are almost impossible