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U.S.: Cuban Diplomat May Face Arrest

February 22, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department said Tuesday that a Cuban diplomat who has been ordered out of the country will lose his diplomatic privileges if Cuba continues to insist that he remain here.

``It would be highly unusual for a state to refuse to remove a diplomat under these circumstances, ″ spokesman James P. Rubin said. ``Under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, Cuba must either recall the diplomat in question or terminate his functions.″

Rubin added that if the diplomat does not leave, he will lose his immunity from prosecution and would become subject to U.S. law.

``If there were grounds for his arrest, he would be arrested,″ Rubin said.

On Saturday, the State Department ordered the diplomat, Jose Imperatori, to leave the country within seven days because of alleged links with a U.S. immigration official arrested last week in Miami on charges of spying for Cuba.

The Cuban government denied that Imperatori had acted improperly and said its diplomatic mission in Washington had not engaged in intelligence activities since it opened in 1977.

After the Cuban statement, the State Department informed Cuban officials that Imperatori was being declared a persona non grata and had until Saturday to depart U.S. territory.

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