Former State Department employee Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, accused last week of being Cuban spies, will be held in custody until their trial, a U.S. magistrate in Washington decided Wednesday.
The magistrate sided with federal prosecutors who argued during the detention hearing that the Myerses posed a flight risk, and that it would be impossible to get them back to the United States if they fled to Cuba,
The couple has been held without bond since pleading not guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and acting as illegal agents for the government in Havana.
Prosecutors allege Cuba recruited Myers after a 1978 trip to the island and that, over the years, Myers and his wife traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and New York, meeting with Cuban agents to divulge U.S. secrets.
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They say the couple kept in touch with their Cuban handlers via a shortwave radio – the same make as the one owned by convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes. In court documents, Myers is quoted as saying he was so successful he received "lots of medals" from the Cuban government and that he and his wife enjoyed a rare private meeting in 1995 with Fidel Castro.
Their trips out of the United States tapered off after 2005, when Myers began to get "paranoid" that he was on a watch list. He retired from the State Department in 2007, but U.S. prosecutors say the Cuban intelligence service kept in touch via e-mail, asking to meet the couple in Mexico.
The State Department is conducting a review to determine what Myers may have divulged to the Cubans, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she has ordered a security review to prevent a repeat of what she called an "outrageous violation" of Myers' oath to serve.
The arrests come as President Barack Obama has sought to improve relations with Havana and observers suggest it could hamper the resumption of planned migration talks between the two countries.