Who's Manuel Rocha, the US diplomat who accepted he spied for Cuba? | Espionage Information

Manuel Rocha, a former profession United States diplomat, advised a federal decide on Thursday that he’ll plead responsible to costs of working as a spy for communist Cuba for many years.

Right here is extra about Rocha and one of many extra brazen betrayals within the historical past of the US international service, based on case prosecutors.

Who’s Manuel Rocha?

Rocha, 73, started his profession on the US State Division as a desk officer dealing with relations with Honduras in 1981. He additionally labored on the US embassy within the Dominican Republic and the US consulate common in Italy.

He served on the White Home’s Nationwide Safety Council from 1994 to 1995, in President Invoice Clinton’s administration.

Rocha was sworn in as US ambassador to Bolivia in July 2000, and labored as an adviser to the commander of the US navy’s Southern Command from about 2006 to 2012, the Justice Division mentioned when he was charged.

After he retired from authorities service, Rocha began a profession because the president of a Dominican gold mine owned partly by Canada’s Barrick Gold that has been accused of environmental degradation, the Related Press reported.

What was Rocha accused of?

Rocha was arrested in December 2023 at his Miami dwelling on allegations that he had engaged in “clandestine exercise” for Cuba since a minimum of 1981 when he began his profession as a US diplomat. He was accused of assembly Cuban intelligence operatives and falsifying data to US authorities officers about his contacts.

An undercover FBI agent posed as a consultant of Cuba’s Common Directorate of Intelligence and repeatedly met Rocha in 2022 and 2023. To this agent, Rocha admitted his many years of labor for Cuba, based on a court docket doc. The agent known as himself “Miguel” and Rocha’s admission was recorded.

Rocha spoke in reward of late Cuban chief Fidel Castro, and bragged about his service for greater than 40 years as a Cuban mole within the coronary heart of US international coverage circles, prosecutors mentioned in court docket information.

“What now we have performed … it’s monumental … greater than a Grand Slam,” he was quoted as saying.

The lawsuit accuses Rocha of sharing intelligence that emboldened Cuba’s communist leaders to assassinate a chief opponent.

Nevertheless, what Rocha exactly did to help Cuba has largely not been revealed by federal authorities but. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and State Division investigators have been assessing the injury, which may take years.

Did Rocha plead responsible?

In mid-February, Rocha pleaded not responsible.

On Thursday, Rocha was shackled by the hands and ankles when US district court docket decide Beth Bloom requested if he wished to vary his plea to responsible. “I’m in settlement,” he mentioned.

In trade, prosecutors agreed to drop 13 counts together with wire fraud and making false statements.

Rocha’s fall from grace may culminate in an extended jail sentence after he mentioned he would admit to federal counts of conspiring to behave as an agent of a international authorities.

In typical counterintelligence circumstances, defendants are charged with espionage. Nevertheless, Rocha was accused of lesser crimes of being a international agent which carry most phrases of between 5 and 10 years in jail.

The plea deal consists of an agreed-upon sentence, case prosecutors and Rocha’s lawyer indicated. Nevertheless, the main points weren’t disclosed in court docket on Thursday. Rocha goes again to court docket on April 12, when he’s more likely to be sentenced.

Information of the plea deal got here hours after the widow of a distinguished Cuban dissident killed in a mysterious automobile crash filed a wrongful demise lawsuit in opposition to the previous diplomat.

What’s the state of US-Cuba relations?

Peter Lapp, who oversaw FBI counterintelligence in opposition to Cuba between 1998 and 2005, mentioned the quick decision of the case advantages not solely the aged Rocha but in addition the federal government, which stands to study lots about Cuba’s penetration of US international coverage circles.

The US and Cuba have had strained relations for greater than 60 years since Castro and his group of armed revolutionaries overthrew a US-backed dictatorship.

The US authorities tried to take away Castro after this in what was known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, and thru a number of assassination makes an attempt over the next many years.

In 1962, Cuba allowed the Soviet Union to secretly set up nuclear missiles, which have been detected by US surveillance. This Cuban Missile Disaster led to 13 days of rigidity, bringing the US and USSR to the brink of nuclear battle.

Whereas former US President Barack Obama took steps to ease tensions with Cuba, former US President Donald Trump reversed a number of of Obama’s steps, banning Individuals from travelling to Cuba and inserting enterprise sanctions on the island.

Present US President Joe Biden lifted among the Trump-era sanctions on Cuba, however many stay in place, strangling the nation’s economic system.

The United Nations Common Meeting has – on greater than 30 events – handed resolutions with near-unanimity, condemning the US blockade of Cuba. Nevertheless, any significant motion by the UN in opposition to the blockade requires the approval of the Safety Council, the place the US has a veto.

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