From: "Pedro Martori"
Subject: Counter-espionage sources describe the Cuban mission in New York as a
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Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 23:36:10 -0500
NNTP-Posting-Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2002 23:41:32 EST
Organization: Bell Sympatico
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WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Tuesday that it is=20
expelling two Cuban diplomats and asking two others to leave the=20
United States in retaliation for a U.S. senior intelligence analyst=20
spying for Havana.
''In response to unacceptable activities, the United States decided=20
to take strong action,'' said Charles Barclay, a State Department=20
spokesman for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere affairs.
Almost three weeks ago, a federal judge handed down a 25-year jail=20
term to a senior analyst at the top-secret Defense Intelligence=20
Agency, Ana Belen Montes, for her lengthy spying career. Montes is=20
the most important spy for Fidel Castro's totalitarian dictatorship=20
in Cuba ever unmasked within the U.S. intelligence community.
Two diplomats from the Castro's Interests Section, the regimen =20
diplomatic mission in Washington, were informed last Friday that they=20
had 10 days to leave the country, Barclay said. He identified them as=20
Oscar Redondo Toledo and Gustavo Mach=EDn G=F3mez, both with a =
rank of first secretary.
''These expulsions represent our response to the unacceptable Cuban=20
activities for which Ana Belen Montes was arrested and convicted,''=20
Barclay said. ``The Montes matter is extremely serious.''
Separately, two diplomats at Castro's mission to the United Nations=20
in New York City ''have been requested to leave the United States for=20
activities deemed outside their official capacity,'' Barclay said. He=20
did not identify them.
Counter-espionage sources describe the Cuban mission in New York as a=20
nexus for very active intelligence operations within the United=20
States of Castro's authoritarian regimen.
While U.S. officials did not say the four Cuban diplomats directed=20
Montes during her 16-year espionage career, they indicated that the=20
diplomats had intelligence functions.
One senior Bush administration official indicated their official=20
diplomatic ranks could conceal higher ranks within Castro's=20
intelligence apparatus .=20
One of the Cuban diplomats in Washington declared persona non grata,=20
Mach=EDn, has variously served as a spokesman, first secretary or=20
business affairs secretary since 1997.
The other diplomat, Redondo, appeared to keep a lower profile.
Under rules that govern diplomats accredited to the United Nations,=20
the State Department was prohibited from flatly expelling the two=20
diplomats at that mission.
Mach=EDn's expulsion is considered a blow to the Castro's government=20
because he has experience in dealing with the business and=20
''The expulsion of Mr. Mach=EDn hits at the epicenter of the Cuban=20
regimen interface with the business community and the U.S.=20
Congress,'' said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and=20
Economic Council, which assists companies seeking to trade with Cuba.
Kavulich said that before coming to Washington, Mach=EDn had been=20
deputy head of the U.S. department at the regimens Foreign Ministry,=20
frequently dealing with U.S. business representatives in that role as=20
well. Mach=EDn, whose father was killed with communist gorilla Ch=E9=20
Guevara in Bolivia, early last week left the United States.
The expulsions are likely to increase tensions with Castro's=20
communist regime -- even as his dictatorship has found growing=20
bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for prying open the U.S. embargo=20
on Castro's 43 years old totalitarian dictatorship .
President Bush has vowed to maintain the embargo.
The last time Washington expelled a Cuban diplomat was in February=20
2000, when it told envoy Jos=E9 Imperatori to leave the country. His=20
expulsion followed allegations linking him to a U.S. immigration=20
official, Mariano Faget, accused of spying for the totalitarian=20
Montes, a 45-year-old hispanic, confessed in March to revealing the=20
identities of at least four U.S. intelligence agents and providing=20
coded secret and top-secret information on defense matters to the=20
Cuban goverment in a spying career that began in 1985.
Montes underwent extensive monthslong debriefing by counterterrorism=20
experts to determine the extent of her espionage. The FBI has=20
publicly disclosed only minimal details about her betrayals, saying=20
it is too sensitive to reveal more.
Two days after her sentencing, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe P=E9rez=20
Roque said that he felt ''profound respect and admiration'' for=20
''Her actions were moved by ethics and by an admirable sense of=20
justice,'' he said.
Herald staff writer Juan O. Tamayo contributed to this report, which=20
was supplemented with Herald wire services and others...
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