US to expel 14 Cuban diplomats 'for spying'

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The Independent US

America has ordered the expulsion of seven Cuban diplomats from the United Nations and seven Cuban diplomats in Washington, US officials said yesterday. The seven Cubans in New York are being expelled "for activities deemed harmful to the United States outside their official capacity as members of the permanent mission of Cuba to the United Nations", the official said, using diplomatic language for spying.

The diplomats in Washington have 10 days to leave, but there was no time frame given to the diplomats in New York to depart, US officials said. The identities were not released. The State Department said the head of the Cuban interests section, Dagoberto Rodriguez, was not among those expelled.

A caller to Cuba's UN mission was told the ambassador, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, was travelling. There are 37 Cuban diplomats, led by the ambassador, accredited to the UN.

Last month, America walked out of a UN meeting to protest at Cuba's re-election to the Human Rights Commission, calling it "an outrage" that undermined the group's credibility. Cuba was elected uncontested to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva weeks after Fidel Castro's government sent 75 independent journalists, librarians and opposition leaders to prison for lengthy terms and executed three alleged hijackers trying to reach America.

"It was an outrage for us because we view Cuba as the worst violator of human rights in this hemisphere," Sichan Siv, the US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, said then. Two months ago, Cuba clamped down on travel by US diplomats, demanding each trip beyond metropolitan Havana be approved. Before, the only requirement was that Cuban authorities be notified before trips.

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