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Love or Spycraft: What Landed an American Teacher in a Cuban Prison?

Her family believes that Ms. López fell for an old love and was taken in by him.

James Cason, a former top U.S. official in Cuba, said most Cuban diplomats are known to be spies for their government, particularly those posted in the United States.

“She had to know what she was getting into, marrying a Cuban diplomat,” Mr. Cason said. “Here in Miami, if you marry a Cuban diplomat, you’re considered a traitor, basically.”

Cuban court documents are unequivocal: Mr. Milanés had been a Cuban intelligence agent. And, the court records say, he confessed that to her after they married on Christmas Eve 2007.

By that time, Mr. Milanés lived in Cuba. He was not allowed to leave the island, so his wife spent the next decade visiting him during long weekends and school breaks. According to Cuban court records, Mr. Milanés was an alcoholic who depended on her financially.

In January 2017, Ms. López received a cryptic call from her husband, asking her to come to Cuba, her lawyer, Mr. Poblete, said.

Mr. Milanés had been caught on a boat in Baracoa, on the eastern coast, trying to flee Cuba, according to a person familiar with the case who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. He had called his wife from custody, luring her to the island.

Ms. López flew to Havana and was arrested in the airport, on her way back.

“I don’t care if he had a gun to his head,” Mr. Peralta said of her husband. “That’s your wife. What kind of man are you to throw your wife under the bus?”

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