The US has charged one of its former ambassadors of , the Justice Department announced Monday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement explaining the charges against Victor Manuel Rocha as “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent.”
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reacted to the charges on Monday, saying the US would work with partners in the intelligence community to assess any long-term national security implications.
The charges against the former diplomat
According to the Justice Department, Rocha has been charged with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government, acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior government consent, and using a US passport obtained by making false statements.
The 73-year-old allegedly revealed his decades-long work on behalf of the to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban operative last year.
The court filing said that instructed Rocha to “lead a normal life.” He is said to have admitted to having created the “legend,” or artificial persona, “of a right-wing person.”
“Those who have the privilege of serving in the government of the United States are given an enormous amount of trust by the public we serve,” Attorney General Garland said.
“To betray that trust by falsely pledging loyalty to the United States while serving a foreign power is a crime that will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” he added.
Who is Victor Manuel Rocha?
Rocha, who was born in Colombia and raised in a working-class home in New York City, joined the State Department in 1981, where he embarked as a career officer serving in posts in Havana, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, the Dominican Republic and Washington. According to the court filing, he allegedly began acting as a foreign agent for Cuba in 1981.
During his time in government, he had access to non-public information, including classified information, and the ability to “affect US foreign policy,” the government said in its statement.
Rocha’s state department career spanned several administrations, both Republican and Democrat. Aside, from reaching the post of Ambassador of Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, he had also served on the White House’s National Security Council from 1994 to 1995, and would later work as an advisor to the Commander of the US military’s Southern Command from around 2006 to around 2012, the department added.
The Justice Department did not provide any details on how Rocha was recruited by Cuba’s intelligence operatives or any information he may have provided Havana while he was working for the US government.
jcg/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)