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Couple accused of spying for Cuba seeks house arrest

WASHINGTON — A federal judge will decide whether to release from jail two retirees accused of spying for Cuba — who say they'll stay away from their sailboat and give up their passports and "maps or other navigational equipment related to Cuba's navigable waters" if they can be detained at home.

Walter Kendall Myers, 72, and Gwendolyn Myers, 71, say they're also prepared to stay away from Cuba's equivalent of an embassy in Washington if U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton grants their request.

The couple filed the petition before a hearing Wednesday. Walton said he'll consider the request and may grant a hearing to listen to arguments on both sides.

A federal magistrate last week sided with U.S. prosecutors and ordered the couple jailed, declaring them a flight risk, because the avid sailors had told an undercover FBI agent about their interest in sailing "home" to Cuba.

But their attorney, Thomas Green, argues that defendants must be released unless the court can't find a way to "reasonably assure" their appearance at trial. He argues that "a combination of conditions can be set that will reasonably assure the Myers' appearance in this case."

The couple was arrested June 4 at the Capital Hilton, blocks from the White House, and has been held in jail without bond since pleading not guilty to charges of wire fraud, serving as illegal agents for Cuba and conspiring to deliver classified information. Prosecutors allege the pair worked for 30 years as clandestine agents for Cuba with Kendall Myers, a former State Department employee, passing along information he obtained on the job.

Green said the couple, who appeared together in court, clad in blue jail jumpsuits, is "holding up remarkably well." They're being held at the District of Columbia's Correctional Treatment Facility, a medium security facility that houses female and low-security risk offenders.

They agreed Wednesday to waive their right to a speedy trial because of the complexity of the case. Prosecutors said the case is likely to include "litigation over classified issues," and they filed petitions looking to prevent the "unauthorized disclosure" of classified information.

The Myers stood before Walton to tell him said they wanted the same law firm to represent each of them, though Walton cautioned that it can sometimes lead to conflict. He noted that in some cases, one defendant "may not be as culpable" as the other, but that the advantage might be diminished if the pair shared an attorney.

"I believe it is in our interest to have joint representation," Kendall Myers told Walton. "I do also," Gwendolyn Myers said.

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