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Inside Politics

FBI Reveals INS Espionage Suspect's Contacts with Cuban Intelligence Officers

Aired February 18, 2000 - 12:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SONIA RUSELER, CNN ANCHOR: To Miami now, where a high-ranking official from the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been charged with spying for Cuba.

Our Miami bureau chief John Zarrella joins us with details -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Sonia, what we know now is that 54-year-old Mariano Faget had a secret security clearance. He worked for the INS for about 30 years, perhaps, more than 30 years. He was born in Havana, Cuba, came here in 1960. His home was searched last night by FBI agents. The entire area was cordoned off. And today he was charged with spying for the Cuban government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL MALLETT, FBI MIAMI: Faget is known to have placed telephone calls from his home telephone to an extension at the Cuban intrasection, which is a representative office of the Cuban government in Washington, D.C. Faget has met with representatives of the Cuba intrasection, who has been identified by the FBI to be a Cuban intelligence officer. Faget has met with a second Cuban intelligence officer in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel here in Miami.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Federal agents say they got wind that Faget may be spying for the Cuban government about a year ago. And they began to set up a plan to snare him. A few months ago, they brought him into the offices at the INS headquarters here in Miami, where he had worked for the past 30 years, and told him they needed his help in arranging for a defector to come to the United States. Well, that information ultimately ended up in the hands, according federal officials here in Miami, in the hands of Cuban intelligence agents.

Faget, again, arrested yesterday in Miami.

Concern, of course, that he may have had influence, because of his supervisory position, over defections in the past, over people who might have wanted to defect, and over immigration and political asylum status of hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of Cuban-Americans over the past 30 years.

In about two hours, Faget appears before a U.S. magistrate here in Miami. Federal officials say they want bond denied.

This is John Zarrella, reporting live from Miami -- Sonia.

RUSELER: Thanks, John.

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