Castro accuses Czechs of spying
HAVANA, Cuba -- Cuban leader Fidel Castro has accused the Czech Republic
of spying on his country in a blistering verbal attack.
The Czech embassy in Havana was "a cave of spies" which had "spent 10 years
spying," he said on Friday, during the final session of an international
economists' meeting in Havana.
His comments came as Cuba continued to hold two Czech officials, arrested
the central Cuban province of Ciego de Avila on January 12 after meeting
Castro demanded that the Czech Republic offer an apology for the activities
former Czech Finance Minister Ivan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik
who were charged with acting against Cuba's security and inciting a rebellion.
Cuban authorities have claimed the two detainees acted on behalf of American
interests, gathering information and providing instructions to anti-communist
dissidents. They could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Czech President Vaclav Havel has refused to apologise but Castro suggested
such action would help solve the dispute between the two countries.
"Offer an apology to our country -- there must be an excuse," Castro said.
are telling the truth and we have the proof."
U.S. officials have branded the accusations "ludicrous" and Havel and Prime
Minister Milos Zeman said the country had no reason to apologise.
"There have not been any credible charges nor any substantial evidence
against our two citizens, so I see no reason why we should apologise in this
matter," Zeman said earlier.
Czech Senate President Petr Pithart is currently in Cuba hoping to meet
discuss the case.
Pilip's wife, Lucie, who visited her husband in prison last week, said
the two are
in good spirits and good physical condition and are awaiting trial, expected within
The Associated Press