Charge in Cuban spy case unsealed, accusing ex-State Dept. officer of conspiracy

WASHINGTON - An alleged accomplice in a major spy case involving Cuba helped recruit a friend and colleague to spy for the Cuban Intelligence Service against the U.S., the Justice Department said Thursday.

Marta Rita Velazquez, once a legal officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development, is accused of conspiracy to commit espionage by helping Ana Belen Montes get a job at the Defence Intelligence Agency, where Montes engaged in espionage. Montes is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

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The charge connects Velazquez to a highly damaging spy case. During the 16 years Montes was a U.S. intelligence analyst for the DIA, she revealed the identities of four undercover agents to Cuban officials.

Velazquez has remained outside the United States since 2002. She lives in Sweden and the U.S. is unable to gain her return, prompting the government to finally unseal a 9-year-old indictment against her.

The extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden does not allow extradition for political offences, a category that includes espionage.

In June 2002, Velazquez resigned from USAID following news reports that Montes had pleaded guilty to espionage and was co-operating with the government.

Velazquez graduated from Princeton University in 1979, obtained a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in 1984.

Velazquez was a student together with Montes at the Johns Hopkins facility, located in Washington, in the early 1980s.

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