US Official Who Spied for Cuba Released After 20 Years

Ana Belen Montes, 65, was released from federal prison on Friday, after pleading guilty in 2002 to conspiring to commit espionage for the Cuban government. She admitted to revealing the identities of four US undercover agents and passing on classified information

US Official Who Spied for Cuba Released After 20 Years
Image credit: Defense Intelligence Agenda [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • Ana Belen Montes, 65, was released from federal prison on Friday, after pleading guilty in 2002 to conspiring to commit espionage for the Cuban government. She admitted to revealing the identities of four US undercover agents and passing on classified information, such as US surveillance of Cuban weapons.
  • She's believed to have been recruited by Havana while working for the Justice Dept. (DOJ) Freedom of Information office from 1979 to 1985, after which she worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and was considered a top analyst on the Cuban military.
  • The FBI says Montes was never paid but was driven solely by her opposition to US foreign policy. Once recruited, she began memorizing classified material from her government computer, writing it onto her personal computer at home, and then sending it to Cuba via encrypted discs.
  • The double agent, dubbed the "Queen of Cuba," secretly spied for the country throughout her entire government career, until her arrest just days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Michelle Van Cleave, the head of US counterintelligence under then-Pres. George W. Bush, said Montes compromised "virtually everything" Washington knew about Cuba.
  • US officials say Montes was caught largely thanks to Rolando "Roly" Sarraff Trujillo, a secret CIA agent who worked as a cryptographer for Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence. He was released to the US in a 2014 prisoner swap after spending 19 years in Cuban prison.
  • Montes was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, but was released early and will be placed under supervision for five years. Her internet access will also be monitored, and she will be banned from working for governments and contacting foreign agents without permission.

Sources: FOX News, Independent, Business Insider, RT, Daily Mail, and Guardian.

Narratives

  • Right narrative, as provided by PJ Media. Montes hates the US, and provided information to the communist Cuban regime that directly led to the deaths of US agents and soldiers abroad. As Pres. Joe Biden continues the Obama-era policy of easing sanctions on Cuba, anti-American groups that seek to undermine the US will be emboldened by Montes’ release.
  • Left narrative, as provided by People's Dispatch. As an American of Puerto Rican descent, Montes understands the harm US foreign policy has had on small Caribbean islands like Cuba, and she simply wanted to sway US policy toward being more compassionate. Montes was a prisoner of conscience, not the "deadly" spy the government made her out to be. Given the recent shift in US-Cuba relations, she deserves this early release.