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Former US ambassador to plead guilty for spying for Cuba over decades

A former U.S. ambassador will plead guilty to charges of spying for Cuba for decades, court records showed, in what the Justice Department described as one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Victor Manuel Rocha, who served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, was charged in December with committing multiple federal crimes, including acting as an illegal foreign agent and using a fraudulently obtained passport.

The U.S. had accused Rocha of having secretly supported Cuba and its clandestine intelligence-gathering mission against Washington since 1981.

KEY QUOTES

He pleaded not guilty in mid-February and the parties in the case announced on Thursday he “will be changing his plea,” according to an entry in the U.S. online court records system. It added that a sentencing was set for April 12.

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Rocha was arrested in December. His legal representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CONTEXT

Rocha worked for the State Department from 1981 to 2002, the Justice Department said when he was charged. He served on the White House’s National Security Council from 1994 to 1995, and worked as an adviser to the commander of the U.S. military’s Southern Command from around 2006 to around 2012, the department added.

Rocha admitted his decades of work for Cuba in a series of meetings in 2022 and 2023 with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a covert Cuban General Directorate of Intelligence representative, according to a court document.

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By KANISHKA SINGH

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