Washington -- Federal authorities arrested a D.C. couple suspected of espionage on behalf of Cuba Thursday.
Agent 202 -- 72-year-old Walter Kendall Myers, a former State Department employee and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell -- and his wife Agent 123 and Agent E-634 -- 71-year-old Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers -- each are 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.
The couple appeared in U.S. District Court Friday and could face up to 35 years in prison.
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They are considered a flight risk and are being held without bond.
“We think they did it because they love Cuba,” said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case told The New York Times.
Given his level of access, the potential for damage could be on the level of Aldrich Ames, according to Daily Kos, who adds, "The question is just how he managed to stay under the radar for parts of four presidencies."
Kendall Myers' recruitment began when he traveled to Cuba in December 1978 on an invitation from an official at the Cuban Mission to the United States in New York City, according to court documents. The Cuban Intelligence Service sized him up on the trip. The Cuban Mission official visited the Myers in South Dakota six months later and signed them up, according to an affidavit.
Kendall Myers, who had done prior contract work for the State Department, agreed to return to D.C. and resume that work, according to the affidavit. In 1985, he landed a position that required top secret clearance.
According to the affidavit, the Myers have a shortwave radio in their apartment and they told an FBI source that they used it to exchange messages with their Cuban handlers beginning in 1983. The Cuban Intelligence Service is known to have broadcast encrypted messages to its secret agents via shortwave radio.
The FBI collects high-frequency messages from Cuban intelligence to its agents and identified some to the Myers from their Cuban handlers, the affidavit said.
Kendall Myers allegedly told the FBI source that he removed information by memory or notes, only occasionally removing documents from the State Department, according to the affidavit. His wife allegedly helped him distribute the information.
Beginning in August 2006, Kendall Myers began viewing top secret documents pertaining to Cuba even though he was assigned to Europe, according to the affidavit.
He also mentioned an evening he and his wife spent with Fidel Castro in 1995. In a personal diary entries dating to 1978, Kendall Myers referred to Castro as brilliant and charismatic and one of the greatest political leaders of our time, according to court documents.
The couple was caught in an FBI undercover operation that began in April. An FBI agent posed as a Cuban intelligence officer and contacted the Myers. The couple agreed to provide information about government personnel with responsibility for Latin America --particularly information from the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago -- and also bragged about their glory days spying for Cuba, according to court documents. The Myers agreed that despite technology the best way to pass information was hand to hand, and Gwendolyn Myers expressed a fondness for passing information by exchanging shopping carts in grocery stores.
Kendall Myers began working for the State Department as a contract instructor at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va., in 1977. After his alleged recruitment by the Cubans, he returned to D.C. after his brief stint in South Dakota and resumed his State Department work. He worked for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research periodically from 1988 to 1999. From July 2001 until his retirement in October 2007, he was a senior analyst for Europe for Intelligence and Research.
In a November 2006 column in the New York Times, Kendall Myers is quoted making critical comments about then President George W. Bush's administration giving the United Kingdom anything back after the UK offered unconditional support for the war in Iraq.
Gwendolyn Myers moved to D.C. in 1980 and married Kendall Myers in 1982. The couple lives on Cathedral Avenue near Wisconsin Avenue in northwest Washington.
Kendall Myers is also the grandson of Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor.
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