A search last week of the apartment of spy suspects Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, turned up a calendar indicating a planned sailing trip to the Caribbean in November with no return date, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Whether that trip would have been how the Myerses, accused of spying for Cuba, finally defected to the communist-run island may never be known; a judge ordered the couple held without bond pending trial.
“To put it bluntly, the government’s case seems at this point insuperable,” Judge John Facciola wrote in a memorandum explaining his decision. “The greater the possibility of conviction, the greater the motivation to flee.”
Mr. Myers, a retired State Department analyst with a top-secret security clearance, and his wife were arrested Friday and charged with spying for Cuba for three decades.
They have pleaded not guilty to charges that could send them to prison for a maximum of 35 years, though federal sentencing guidelines would recommend they receive between 14 and 17 years.
The couple, dressed in blue prison scrubs, sat expressionless through most of the hearing. Mr. Myers glanced at his wife after prosecutors said former Cuban President Fidel Castro over the weekend praised her courage.
Defense attorney Tom Green asked that his clients receive bail and remain under house arrest and electronic monitoring.
“The Myerses, if they get back to Cuba, will be a real and present danger to the U.S.,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Harvey said. “They would be greeted as heroes there; they would not be coming back.”
The judge agreed.
“If the defendants succeed in fleeing to Cuba, a country they have described as their home, they will not be extradited to the United States,” the judge wrote. “There is not a single imaginable reason why Cuba would want the defendants to remain in the United States subject to prosecution.”
Authorities say the couple own a 37-foot yacht moored near Annapolis, have charts of Cuban waters and told an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban agent that they could escape by sailing to the island country.
Mr. Myers seemed to stifle a laugh in court when prosecutors suggested sailing to Cuba was the couple’s escape plan.
But according to court documents, Mrs. Myers said the couple could sail to Cuba and live on their sailboat so as not to be a burden on anyone.
She also said her husband - who taught at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute - could be a good teacher at an intelligence school in Cuba, according to the documents.
“That I could see doing,” Mr. Myers said, according to the FBI. “That I would like to do.”