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Former US ambassador accused of spying for Cuba for decades plans to plead guilty

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(WASHINGTON) — A former U.S. ambassador charged with spying for Cuban intelligence over a more than four-decade span told a judge Thursday he plans to plead guilty in his case, according to court records.

Manuel Rocha, who rose through the ranks of the U.S. government and ultimately served as a U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, will plead guilty to two of the 15 charges brought against him in an indictment returned in December.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has described the case as “one of the highest reaching and longest lasting infiltrations of US government by a foreign agent.”

Rocha is set to formally change his plea and face sentencing at a hearing scheduled for April 12 in Miami.

Federal prosecutors say as early as 1981 and continuing to present day, Rocha secretly supported Cuba and its intelligence services by serving as an agent for the communist government against the U.S.

As part of his alleged role, Rocha attained high-level diplomatic positions that provided him access to classified information and abilities to affect U.S. foreign policy.

“ROCHA always kept his status as a Cuban agent secret in order to protect himself and others and to allow himself the opportunity to engage in additional clandestine activity,” prosecutors said in a criminal complaint.

He had faced charges of conspiracy, acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government and unlawful use of a passport obtained by a false statement.

The indictment also brought several charges of wire fraud against Rocha, noting how he sought to “unlawfully enrich himself while furthering the intelligence interests” of Cuba by repeatedly lying to attain and maintain his employment at the State Department — including annual annuity retirement payments after leaving office.

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