Low-tech radio ciphers helped Myers couple avoid detection for years

Walter Myers

Walter Myers

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The recent arrest in the US of Walter and Gwendolyn Myers, on charges of spying for Cuba for over 30 years,  have prompted discussions about how the couple managed to escape detection by US counterintelligence authorities for so long. The reasons are many, and undoubtedly include careful spycraft and shrewd handling. But Carmen Gentile offers another suggestion in The Washington Times: low-tech shortwave radio transmissions. Specifically, the Walter and Gwyn Myers “appears to have avoided capture for 30 years because their communications with [Cuba] were too low-tech to be detected by sophisticated US monitors”. The latter tend to focus on scanning for encrypted satellite or microwave communications which –among other hi-tech means– are now the communication method of choice for clandestine spy networks operating in the United States. But the Cubans appear to have stuck to old-school oral cipher signals, based on straightforward number-to-letter codes, which they broadcast to their agents in the United States over predetermined shortwave frequencies at specified times. According to James Lewis, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, US counterintelligence “spends little time combing the shortwave bands” for such transmissions. For more information about shortwave numbers stations, see here.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Low-tech radio ciphers helped Myers couple avoid detection for years

  1. The Cubans employ Morse, Voice and a data system to send messages. How many are really aimed at agents is unknown. You can get a clue by looking in the first two/last two groups of a message. If a nine is present the message is valid; if not, it can be ignored. The Morse system they use sends cut numerals by using a letter instead of the full Morse character. TANDUWRIGM is 0123456789. Today 5th August at 0500z they actually sent ANDUWRIGMT and repeated in – definately no message there!

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