State Department Retiree, Wife Charged with Spying for Cuba

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Following a three-year investigation a former State Department worker and his wife have been arrested and charged with several counts related to espionage. Walter Kendall Myers, 72, and his wife Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71, allegedly passed state secrets to Cuba for years.

The couple, who were recruited as spies by the Cuban government in 1979, were reportedly considered so valuable to the Cuban government that they were once visited at their vacation home by Fidel Castro.

Using methods of exchanging information which range from the old-fashioned – encoded short wave radio messages, notes on water-soluble paper, and even exchanging shopping carts in a supermarket – the technological – sending encrypted emails from anonymous ISPs – the Myerses passed mostly economic intelligence.

The pair received very little in the way of compensation from Cuba, save a radio and some expense money. Both felt a kinship with the Cuban way of life and political agenda, and Myers once praised Castro as a “brilliant and charismatic leader.”

Following instructions from officials in the communist country, Myers, a former professor in international studies at Johns Hopkins University, applied for a CIA position. He was rejected for that job but later was hired by the State Department, where he was able to achieve higher and higher security clearances throughout the years. During his last year on the job, he had access to over 200 classified intelligence reports, the information in which he either memorized or took notes about, in order to minimize the risks.

The Myerses have been charged with conspiracy to act as illegal agents of the Cuban government, conspiracy to communicate classified information to the Cuban government, acting as illegal agents of the Cuban government, and wire fraud. They have pleaded not guilty.

The indictment, which was unsealed last week, asks for Myers’s State Department earnings, totaling $1.7 million, and his rollover IRA account of $174,867. The couple and their attorney have declined to comment on the case.

The espionage unraveled when an undercover FBI agent, posing as a colleague of the pair’s Cuban handler, invited Kendall Myers for a birthday drink. Although the couple had been out of touch with their Cuban contacts for several years, fearing that they were under surveillance by the U.S. government, they told the undercover agent that they would help pass information to Cuba when they could.

After three additional meetings with the agent, the couple was arrested at a Washington hotel.

 

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