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American Couple Faces Charges of Spying for Cuba

A former U.S. State Department official and his wife are accused of spying for Cuba for nearly 30 years. A Washington Post reporter updates the story.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, a spy story, Havana's man in Washington. Gwen Ifill has our report.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    For nearly 30 years, State Department intelligence analyst Walter Kendall Myers was privy to top-secret information about Cuba. Today, that knowledge landed Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn, in court, where they faced charges of spying for the Cuban government.

    The couple has pled not guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy, and acting as agents of a foreign government. If convicted, the 72-year-old Myers and his 71-year-old wife each face up to 35 years in prison. Today the judge ordered them held without bond.

    According to prosecutors, Cuban intelligence officers recruited Myers during a 1978 trip to the island nation. They also allege he shared secret information with Cuba until 2007, when he retired from the State Department's intelligence bureau.

    The indictment charges that entries recovered from Myers' personal journal show he was angry at U.S. government policies. The couple received no money.

    "I am so bitter these last few months," Myers allegedly wrote in 1978. He also expressed his admiration for Cuban leader Fidel Castro, writing, "He is one of the great political leaders of our time."

    The government says Myers and his wife received coded instructions by short-wave radio in their apartment in Washington, D.C. They then met Cuban spies in supermarkets, handing off secrets by switching shopping carts.

    Myers and his wife allegedly met personally with Castro in 1995. After news of their arrest last week, Castro wrote that, if the charges prove true, he admires the couple's, quote, "disinterested and courageous conduct."

    Friends and some former colleagues are in disbelief, like former Senator James Abourezk from South Dakota. Mrs. Myers once worked for him.

  • FORMER SEN. JAMES ABOUREZK, D-S.D.:

    Kendall and Gwen are very good people, very humane, humanitarian people, and it's hard for me to believe they would do anything to hurt the United States. I can understand they might have been angry at the government, but the United States itself, I just can't believe they'd hurt them.