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Cuba alleges U.S. envoy carried funds to dissidents

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  • Cubans say top U.S. diplomat delivered funds to dissidents
  • U.S. official: We don't prevent private groups from providing aid to Cubans
  • Cuban officials show purported e-mails, play recordings of phone conversations
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From Shasta Darlington
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HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuban officials on Monday accused the top U.S. diplomat in Havana of delivering private funds from American groups opposed to Fidel Castro to dissidents in Cuba.

At a news conference, Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry's point person on U.S. affairs, called the head of the U.S. Interests Section, Michael Parmly, a "common courier."

"We are here today to denounce the fact of the scandalous behavior of diplomatic officials of the United States in Havana," she said, speaking in English.

Authorities presented what they said were intercepted e-mails and recorded phone conversations that they said prove their claim. But the documents and recordings refer only to "letters" that Parmly allegedly carried back and forth and do not specifically mention money.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "the U.S. government has programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people that are essentially forgotten by the Cuban government and that we ... do not stand in the way of private groups doing that as well."

As to how that is done, he said, "I'm not aware of the mechanics; I don't steep myself in these things."

Cuba calls dissidents mercenaries and accuses them of taking orders from the United States, which it says is intent on overthrowing the communist government.

On Monday, Cuban officials accused leading dissident Martha Beatriz Roque of receiving funds from an organization run by Santiago Alvarez, a man in a U.S. prison for illegal arms possession.

The Cubans said Parmly delivered the cash.

The Cuban government promised more details in a series of television exposés it says are in the works.

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.

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