Follow Us

Former US ambassador charged for allegedly working as agent for Cuba

After retiring from the State Department, Rocha worked in mining businesses, a public relations law firm and a cannabis merger company.

Published: December 4, 2023 7:40am

Updated: December 4, 2023 1:28pm

The former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia arrested for allegedly working as a Cuban spy following a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation, the Justice Department said Monday. 

Officials arrested Manuel Rocha, 73, is expected to appear before a federal judge Monday on allegations that he worked on behalf of the Cuban government for more than 40 years, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

His arrest Friday was first reported by The Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department is reportedly accusing Rocha of working on behalf of the Cuban government and not making it known to the U.S. government as required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. 

Rocha joined the foreign service in 1981 and served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 until 2002, when he directly intervened in the country's 2002 presidential race by threatening to cut off assistance to the country if voters elected former coca grower Evo Morales.

After retiring from the State Department, Rocha worked in mining businesses, a public relations law firm and a cannabis merger company.

When Rocha's wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha, was contacted by the wire service, she responded, "I don’t need to talk to you," and hung up the phone.

"The FBI will continue to rigorously defend against foreign governments targeting America, and we will find and hold accountable anyone who violates their oath to the United States, no matter how long it takes," FBI Director Christopher Wray said after Rocha's arrest.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight