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News reports: Foreigner arrested for planting explosive device in Cuba

July 23, 1997

HAVANA (AP) _ A man carrying a German passport has been arrested, reportedly for planting an explosive device in the tunnel that runs under Havana Bay.

There was no evidence that the device had exploded.

El Pais newspaper in Madrid identified the man as Michael Reeb. But the Mexican government news agency Notimex called him Michael Reeve. The reports quoted unidentified sources and a woman who said she had been renting a room to the man, who was arrested Saturday.

Magali Martinez, who lives in Guanabo about 40 miles west of Havana, told The Associated Press today that a German had rented a room in her two-story home beginning July 7 and was to have stayed through July 21.

``He was a 30-year-old man, blond, almost didn’t speak Spanish,″ Martinez was quoted by El Pais as saying. ``Several security agents came and asked to search his room. They came looking for explosives and they said they had done something in the tunnel.″

It was not clear when the device allegedly was planted.

German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Petra Sigmund in Bonn, Germany, confirmed today that a man with a German passport was arrested in Cuba on Saturday. She declined to give details on the man’s identity or the reasons for his arrest.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

The explosive device reportedly was placed in the tunnel that sends traffic from the old city center to suburban eastern Havana.

It was not clear if the arrest was related to July 12 explosions at two Havana luxury hotels that shattered glass and injured at least three people. Cuba has accused people from the United States of setting the blasts to scare away tourists and harm the government.

Citing unidentified sources, Notimex said a woman _ also a German _ and three Cubans also were believed to have been arrested.

Martinez told the AP that a Cuban woman was the German man’s companion and that police told her that she also had been arrested. She said police had seized several suitcases from the man’s room.

``All of this seems rather strange,″ she said of the arrest, calling the German a quiet and orderly man who kept his room neat and read a lot when he was not making trips to the capital.

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