(WASHINGTON) — A federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment against former U.S. ambassador and accused Cuban spy Manuel Rocha on Tuesday, charging him with a range of crimes varying from conspiracy, acting as illegal foreign agent, wire fraud and false statements.
The 32-page indictment offers further details into how Rocha — over more than four decades — rose through the ranks of the State Department and U.S. foreign policy establishment all while allegedly concealing his status as an agent for Cuba’s intelligence services.
The indictment also details how Rocha allegedly spoke about another unnamed Cuban agent who he said was also a U.S. government employee — though he said that agent was “betrayed.”
“A huge betrayal,” Rocha said in a Feb. 17, 2023 conversation with an undercover FBI agent. “Sadly she would have done much more had she not been betrayed.”
Prosecutors allege it was in Chile “in or around 1973” — the year of the military overthrow of the socialist government led by Salvador Allende — when Rocha became a “great friend” of Cuba’s intelligence services.
Eight years later, he applied for an appointment with the U.S. State Department, affirming that he was not acting as an agent of a foreign government — his first of many lies that would continue for decades, prosecutors say.
Rocha, who was born in Colombia and was raised in New York, started in 1981 in lower-level postings in U.S. embassies in the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico before being elevated to serve in the National Security Council. That later led to assignments in Havana, Cuba, followed by serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina and later his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia between 1999 and 2002.
The indictment unsealed Tuesday adds 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.
An attorney for Rocha did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the indictment.
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