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Page last updated at 05:50 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 06:50 UK

Two charged as Cuban spies in US

US State Department building
Mr Myers worked at the State Department from 1977 until 2007

A retired US official and his wife have been charged with spying for the Cuban government over a 30-year period.

Washington DC residents Walter Myers, 72, and Gwendolyn Myers, 71, are accused of acting as illegal agents for Cuba and wire fraud.

The couple could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The arrest follows a sting operation by the FBI, in which an agent posing as a Cuban spy persuaded the couple to give him information about their activities.

Mr Myers first began working for the US State Department in 1977 as an instructor at the Foreign Service Institute, where he was given "top secret" security clearance.

In 1999, he was granted an even higher security clearance when he joined the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) on a permanent basis.

He retired in 2007. According to the justice department, in the previous year alone, he used his computer to view about 200 sensitive or classified documents relating to Cuba.

Supermarket spies

Mr Myers married his wife Gwendolyn in 1982. She worked as an analyst at a Washington DC bank, and was never granted security clearance by the US government.

Mr Myers was first approached by the Cuban government in 1978, the justice department says, and he and his wife agreed shortly afterwards to provide information to Cuban intelligence.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy says the couple told the undercover FBI agent that they were known as agents 202 and 123, that they had personally met Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro.

Mrs Myers's preferred method of of passing on secrets was to exchange shopping trolleys in a grocery store, the justice department says.

An affidavit released by the department revealed details of the sting operation conducted by the FBI.

It says an undercover agent posing as a member of the Cuban Intelligence Service approached Mr Myers, telling him that he had been sent by the Cuban government to obtain information from him.

During a subsequent meeting, Mr Myers and his wife agreed to provide information about US government personnel to the undercover agent, and made statements about their past activities for the Cuban government, the affidavit alleges.



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