Trial of two Cuban-American academics on charges of spying for Cuba delayed until 2007

The trial of two Cuban-American academics accused of acting as agents of Fidel Castro's communist government will be delayed until early 2007, in part because of a legal fight over secret recorded conversations involving the married couple.

The trial of Carlos Alvarez, 61, and Elsa Alvarez, 55, had been set to begin in May. But U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore said at a status hearing Thursday that he would postpone the trial until January 2007.

One key reason for the delay is that defense attorneys are challenging whether the FBI lawfully obtained warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to eavesdrop on the pair. Prosecutors said it will take months for federal officials to produce the information about those thousands of intercepts being sought by the couple's lawyers.

The defense lawyers are also appealing a previous decision to keep the couple in detention prior to trial. Moore said he was concerned that the lengthy trial delay could keep them jailed "for longer than they would otherwise serve if they were ever convicted." No date has been set for Moore to hear that appeal.

The Alvarezes, both longtime employees at Florida International University, have pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to register as required as agents of a foreign government. Prosecutors have said they spied for Castro for years on Miami's Cuban-American exile community, reports AP.


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