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Cuba accuses meddling { November 9 2002 }

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November 9, 2002
As Spat Grows, Cuba Accuses U.S. of Meddling

HAVANA, Nov. 8 (Reuters) — Cuba responded today to the expulsion of four of its diplomats from the United States by accusing the American Mission in Havana of breaking international norms by spying and meddling in its internal affairs.

"The government of the United States knows that we can present ample evidence of their activities of espionage and constant subversion against Cuba," said a statement from the Foreign Ministry that was published in the Communist Party daily Granma.

American diplomats have angered President Fidel Castro's government by helping dissidents and by handing out short-wave radios for Cubans to listen to American broadcasts.

The Cuban statement said the American interference violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

Cuba said the expulsions, ordered last week, were a "grotesque" ploy to win votes in Tuesday's election among Cuban exiles in Florida, where President Bush's brother Jeb was re-elected governor.

The expulsions were also aimed at undermining growing support in the United States for lifting the four-decade-old trade sanctions against Cuba, the Cuban statement said.

On Nov. 1, the State Department declared first secretaries Gustavo Machín Gómez and Óscar Redondo at the Cuban interests section in Washington "persona non grata" and gave them 10 days to leave the country.

Two Cuban diplomats at the United Nations in New York, Francisco González and Carlos Suanes, were also asked to leave the United States "for engaging in activities deemed to be harmful to the United States outside their official capacity."

The expulsions were a response to the activities of Ana Belén Montes, a former American intelligence officer who was sentenced in October to 25 years in prison for spying for Cuba.

Ms. Montes analyzed intelligence about Cuba for the Defense Intelligence Agency. She admitted she had voluntarily spied for the Cuban government for 17 years for ideological reasons.

The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba over 40 years ago after Mr. Castro seized power in a 1959 revolution. However, the two nations maintain interests sections in each other's capitals.

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