WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) — U.S. officials say they are stepping up efforts to extradite an alleged Cuban spy they charge convinced a federal clerk to give up national secrets for decades. Justice Department officials want to arrest Marta Rita Velasquez, 55, an American born in Puerto Rico who they say recruited Ana Belen Montes to give U.S. secrets to Cuba, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
Velasquez, who was indicted in 2004 for conspiracy to commit espionage, has been living in Sweden since 2002. Her indictment was sealed until recently after U.S. officials learned Velasquez knew of the charges.
Under a treaty with Sweden, espionage is considered a “political offense,” so the U.S. cannot ask Stockholm to extradite her. By publicizing the indictment, Washington hopes the Swedes will feel pressure to return her to the United States. Montes is serving a 25-year sentence for espionage. At the time of her arrest, she worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency. The women met in the early 1980s, officials say, while Montes was a clerk at the Justice Department. Velasquez allegedly used her political connections to get Montes a position at DIA in 1985.