Former U.S. Ambassador Pleads Guilty to Acting as Cuban Agent

A former United States ambassador accused of working for decades as a secret agent for Cuba in one of the biggest national security breaches in years pleaded guilty on Friday and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Manuel Rocha, 73, pleaded guilty to two charges — conspiring to defraud the United States as a foreign agent and failing to register as a foreign agent — as part of an agreement with the federal government. He also faces three years of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine.

Mr. Rocha, wearing a beige prison uniform and black glasses, conceded before he was sentenced to the “betrayal of my oath of loyalty to the United States during my two decades in the State Department.”

“During my formative years in college, I was heavily influenced by the radical politics of the day,” said Mr. Rocha, whom prosecutors said was recruited by Cuban intelligence agents in 1973. “Today, I no longer see the world through the radical eyes of my youth.”

In imposing the sentence, Judge Beth Bloom of Federal District Court in Miami said that as recently as 2022 and 2023 Mr. Rocha was recorded by an undercover F.B.I. agent showing “a lack of allegiance of the United States.”

“You turned your back on the country,” she said. “A country that gave you everything.”

The proceedings did not shed much light on Mr. Rocha’s dealings with the Cuban government or whether he shared secrets during his diplomatic career, which included serving as ambassador to Bolivia and briefly working in a White House role under President Bill Clinton.

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