Second US government official indicted in Cuba espionage case
April 26, 2013 2 Comments
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The United States has publicly unsealed for the first time the indictment of an American government official accused of spying for Cuba, in connection with former senior US military intelligence analyst Ana Belen Montes, who was jailed in 2002 for spying for Havana. Marta Rita Velazquez, a Puerto Rican-born American citizen, was originally indicted in 2004 for conspiracy to commit espionage as an unregistered agent of a foreign power. A graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law School, Velazquez first met Montes while they were both studying at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. In 2002, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended Montes’ 17-year espionage career on behalf of Cuba, it was told that Velazquez helped the Cuban Intelligence Directorate recruit Montes. The military analyst told her FBI interrogators that Velazquez introduced her to a Cuban intelligence officer in New York; she then traveled with her to Cuba, where Montes received “operational training”, before helping her obtain a job with the US Defense Intelligence Agency. At the time, Velazquez was already working with for the US Department of State as a legal officer attached to the US Agency for International Development. In that position, which she held for over a decade, Velazquez had a top-secret security clearance; she also completed tours at the US embassies in Guatemala and Nicaragua. In 2004, a grand jury in Washington, DC, indicted Velazquez for espionage, accusing her of exchanging encrypted information with Cuban intelligence officers and traveling abroad to receive operational training while secretly in the service of Cuba. However, The Washington Post said on Thursday that the US government is unable to arrest Velazquez, who has constantly remained outside the United States since 2002. The former USAID official currently resides in Sweden, a country whose extradition treaty with the US defines espionage as a “political offense”. For this reason, the nature of Velazquez’s offense “falls outside the scope of Sweden’s extradition treaty” with the US, according to Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd. The Justice Department told journalists on Thursday that Velazquez was notified of the charges against her in 2011 and is therefore aware of her current fugitive status.