US expelling 2 Cuban UN diplomats over ‘influence’ ops


The U.S. on Thursday said it has notified Cuba’s UN mission that it is requiring two of its staffers to depart the U.S. over allegedly conducting “influence operations against the United States” and took further action to curtail the movement of the mission’s staff.

The State Department did not specify what those efforts entailed, but the language is similar to what U.S. officials have used to describe Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential elections. The notification was made Thursday.

The U.S. made the demand due to the individuals “abusing their privileges of residence,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that further said the U.S. is curtailing the travel of all the mission’s personnel to the island of Manhattan, where the UN is headquartered.

“We take any and all attempts against the national security of the United States seriously and will continue to investigate any additional personnel who may be manipulating their privileges of residence,” Ortagus added.

The announcement comes as the UN General Assembly is underway in New York, with the General Debate — where world leaders will address the international body — set to begin Tuesday.

The spokeswoman did not provide additional details on what actions the individuals who have been asked to leave are accused of taking, nor did she specify if they have already left the country.

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have markedly deteriorated under President Donald Trump after his predecessor, Barack Obama, initiated an unprecedented diplomatic opening with the Cold War rival.

Trump recalled nearly all U.S. diplomats from the island nation in 2017 amid still-unexplained illnesses afflicting U.S. diplomats that officials initially said were the result of some kind of sonic attack.
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