Page last updated at 04:32 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 05:32 UK

Fidel Castro dismisses spy 'tale'

Fidel Castro (archive picture)
Fidel Castro no longer rules Cuba, but regularly comments on world events

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says US allegations that a Washington couple spied for Cuba are a "ridiculous tale".

In an editorial, he questioned the timing of their arrest - days after the Organization of American States lifted Cuba's 1962 expulsion from the group.

The couple, retired state department official Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, are accused of having passed on information to Cuba for three decades.

The pair, both in their 70s, face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

In his article, Mr Castro described the case as an "espionage comic strip".

He admitted that he had met the Myerses in Mexico in 1995 - as the US alleges - but went on to say that he had met thousands of US citizens in his life for all sorts of reasons.

Sting operation

However on the question of whether the charges were true, the BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says Mr Castro was somewhat ambiguous.

Those who have helped to protect Cuba "from the terrorist plans and assassination plots organised by various US administrations", the former president wrote, deserve "all the honours in the world".

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

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

Their arrest, announced on Friday, followed a sting operation by the FBI.

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

Mrs Myers' preferred method of passing on secrets was to exchange shopping trolleys in a grocery store, it said.

Fidel Castro, 82, has not been seen in public since July 2006 and ceded power to his brother in February 2008.

However comments by him appear frequently in Cuba's state-run press.

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