The independent news organization of Duke University

Former Duke-NUS researcher pleads guilty to being Russian agent

Courtesy of NUS News.
Courtesy of NUS News.

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, a former medical researcher at Duke-National University of Singapore, pled guilty Wednesday to acting on behalf of a foreign government in the United States without notifying the Attorney General, as federal law requires.

At the time of his arrest in 2020, Fuentes held a position with the National Heart Centre Singapore. Fuentes—who received a degree in biomedical sciences from Kazam University in Russia—was also employed in the cardiovascular and metabolic disorders program at Duke-NUS Medical School. He has authored more than 20 cardiology papers since 2016 and held five different academic affiliations internationally.

Fuentes has since been suspended from these positions while the federal investigation is ongoing.

Fuentes was arrested for following the directions of an agent in the Russian Intelligence Service since 2019. He said that he was recruited by the Russian official after meeting him at a professional conference. Between May 2019 and February 2020, Fuentes and the official met at least five times in Moscow.

According to court documents, Fuentes leased a residential unit in Miami to spy on a resident of the building and communicate this person’s whereabouts to the RIS. Under his direction, Fuentes’s wife then took a picture of the person’s license plates to send to the Russian official. 

The resident turned out to be a Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence informant, who had been providing the FBI with information on Russian activities in South Florida.

In addition to the charge to which he pled guilty, Fuentes was also initially charged with conspiracy to act on behalf of a foreign agent. 

Fuentes is scheduled to be sentenced May 17 in front of United States District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.

Anisha Reddy | Senior Editor

Anisha Reddy is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


Share and discuss “Former Duke-NUS researcher pleads guilty to being Russian agent” on social media.