Ex-State Department Lawyer Allegedly Recruited Cuban Spy

A former U.S. State Department lawyer helped the Communist government of Cuba recruit a spy who was inserted into the Defense Intelligence Agency in a conspiracy that began 30 years ago, the Justice Department said.

Marta Rita Velazquez, named in a nine-year-old indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in Washington, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit espionage. Velazquez, 55, fled the U.S. 11 years ago and is living in Stockholm, according to a Justice Department statement. The department didn’t say why it unsealed the case now.

Velazquez, who was born in Puerto Rico, introduced Ana Belen Montes to the Cuban Intelligence Service in 1984 and later helped Montes get a position as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, according to the indictment. Montes, who pleaded guilty of espionage conspiracy in 2002, is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Velazquez assisted the Cuban spy agency by “spotting, assessing, and recruiting U.S. citizens who occupied sensitive national security positions or who had the potential of occupying such positions in the future,” according to the indictment.

Velazquez, who had top security clearance at the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development, began wooing Montes to spy while the two were students at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

If convicted, Velazquez could face as long as life in prison.

Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, and Bill Miller, a spokesman for Washington U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, didn’t immediately respond yesterday to e-mail messages seeking comment on the timing of the case being unsealed.

The case is U.S. v. Velazquez, 04-cr-00044, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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