The State Department on Thursday expelled two members of Cuba’s mission to the United Nations and barred the remaining members from leaving Manhattan, department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
The Cubans were found to be running spy operations on American soil. “The Department of State today notified the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the United States requires the imminent departure of two members of Cuba’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations for abusing their privileges of residence." Ortagus said.
"The Cuban government has targeted the United States by sending personnel under diplomatic cover to engage in influence activities that are prejudicial to U.S. national security," another State Department official told Fox News. The department will continue to investigate whether other Cuban personnel are using their positions at the U.N. to interfere with the U.S. or its allies.
"In addition to the required departures, travel within the United States by all members of Cuba’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations will now essentially be restricted to the island of Manhattan," Ortagus continued. “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."
The announcement came as the U.N. holds its 74th General Assembly in New York.
In 2015, the U.S. and Cuba restored relations that had been severed since 1961. However, in April, President Trump reversed a slew of Obama-era policies toward Cuba as part of a crackdown on what then-National Security Adviser John Bolton referred to as "the three stooges of socialism"-- Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In June, Trump announced even tougher limits on American travel to Cuba, according to Fox 8.