Cuba accuses Czech diplomat of spying for U S
HAVANA, Apr 14 (Reuters) Cuba accused a Czech diplomat of spying for the United States today, two days after he was given 72 hours to leave the communist-run country.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said Stanislav Kazecky, first secretary at the Czech Embassy in Havana, had violated the Vienna Convention on the rules of diplomacy by supporting ''mercenary groups,'' a label used for dissidents.
''He does not behave like a diplomat and has continuously carried out intelligence work. He doesn't work for the Czech government but for the U S government,'' Perez told reporters.
''He follows instructions from the U S secret services,'' the minister said.
Perez accused the Czech diplomat of giving money to Cuban dissidents on behalf of the U.S. government.
''We've had to warn him several times for trying to photograph and gain access to the vicinity of military installations, places where a Czech diplomat had no business going,'' the minister said.
Kazecky denied the espionage charge and said his contacts with dissidents were the same as any European diplomat. ''Like other embassies in Havana, we have relations with dissidents.
We are not denying that,'' he told Reuters.
Cuba informed the Czechs on Wednesday that Kazecky's visa would not be renewed, forcing the 34-year-old diplomat to leave Cuba by Saturday after two years in charge of the embassy's political affairs.
Prague called the move retaliation for Czech criticism of Cuba's human-rights record. The Czech government has decided not to renew the visa of a Cuban diplomat in Prague, Perez said.
Czech support for pro-democracy activists opposed to President Fidel Castro's 47-year rule has kept ties between Prague and Havana tense.
The Czech Republic, a former Communist country and a new member of the European Union, has advocated reimposing EU diplomatic sanctions on Cuba for repressing dissent and jailing Castro's critics.
Last October, Cuban authorities banned an embassy reception in a Havana hotel to celebrate the Czech national day, calling it ''counter-revolutionary'' because of the dissidents invited.
Leading Cuban dissident Vladimiro Roca dismissed the espionage charges against Kazecky. ''It's the same old story.
There is nothing in the Vienna Convention that stops diplomats from relating to all sectors of civil society,'' Roca said.
REUTERS CH VC2312