Myers was known as Agent 202 and Gwendolyn as Agent 123, and they were encouraged to seek a job in Washington at the state department or CIA, the justice department said.

The Washington couple, who were first recruited after Myers travelled to Cuba in 1978 at the invitation of the Cuban mission to the United States in New York, was arrested on June 4 following an undercover FBI sting operation.

The two could spend the rest of their lives behind bars on charges of conspiracy to hand over classified information to Cuba, serving as an illegal agent for a foreign government, and wire fraud.

Gwendolyn, who worked as an analyst at a local bank, allegedly passed on information by changing shopping carts with Cuban agents in stores.