U.S. spy asked to help Cuba
BY WILFREDO CANCIO ISLA
In 1999 Cuban diplomats in Washington tried to enlist a noted journalist and literary editor to spy on members of the Cuban exile community and prominent U.S. citizens, among them Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Robert Menendez.
According to Robert Eringer, representatives from the Cuban Interests Section tried to recruit him to obtain financial information on the three Cuban-American legislators and to infiltrate the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). In exchange, the Cubans promised him exclusive contacts and business opportunities on the island, according to Eringer.
Eringer, however, was then working as an undercover FBI agent.
The revelations of Eringer's Cuban connections are revealed in his upcoming book Ruse: Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence, expected to hit bookstores by mid-April. The 215-page book will be published by Potomac Books of Dulles, Va.
''Of course, at the FBI they went crazy with the case,'' Eringer recalled. ``A Cuban intelligence officer asking me, a U.S. citizen, for help spying on other U.S. citizens on U.S. soil was something completely incompatible with his diplomatic status.''
According to Eringer, in addition to the Cuban-American legislators, Cuban intelligence agents were also interested in the leadership of the CANF; especially Jorge Mas Santos, Joe Garcia, Danny Hays, Feliciano Foyo, Alberto Hernández Sarduy, José ''Pepe'' Hernández, Ninoska Pérez Castellón, Kirk Menéndez and Abel Hernández, a New Jersey resident.
The Cubans, Eringer said, also wanted him to assist them in staging a media campaign in the United States with the intention of obtaining the extradition of anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.
Eringer, noted for his long career as an investigative journalist, novelist, literary agent and private intelligence consultant, worked for the FBI from 1993 to 2002. His mission at the time was to capture the legendary spy Edward Lee Howard, who had deserted the CIA and taken up with Moscow. Howard was found dead at his home in Moscow in 2002, under circumstances that remain a mystery.
Before his death he traveled at least six times to Cuba for meetings with officials from the General Intelligence Directorate of Cuba, known by its Spanish acronym DGI, said Eringer.
Posing as a literary agent interested in publishing Howard's memoirs, Eringer said he contacted Howard by phone in December of 1993. He said they would meet seven months later in Moscow to discuss the publishing of Safe House, which appeared in 1995.
According to Eringer, it was Howard who interceded with Cuban intelligence in Moscow to allow his literary agent to enter Cuba in 1999. Eringer said he was then able to travel to Havana where they discussed another possible project: a guide for spies.
The plan was to arrest Howard during a layover at an international airport, but the plan was abruptly canceled by then-President Bill Clinton over concerns it could hurt U.S. relations with Russia.