Home NewsU.S. News US releases top Cuba spy Ana Belén Montes after 20 years in prison | US national security

US releases top Cuba spy Ana Belén Montes after 20 years in prison | US national security

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US releases top Cuba spy Ana Belén Montes after 20 years in prison | US national security

One of the highest-ranking US officials ever proven to have spied for Cuba has been released from prison early after spending more than two decades behind bars.

Ana Belén Montes pleaded guilty in 2002 to conspiracy to commit espionage after she was accused of using her leading position as a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official to leak information, including the identities of some US spies, to Havana. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison at the age of 45.

Montes, now 65, was released on Friday, the US bureau of prisons said.

A US citizen of Puerto Rican descent, Montes began working for the DIA in 1985 and rapidly climbed its ranks to become the agency’s top Cuba analyst.

Prosecutors said during this time Montes received coded messages from Havana over a short-wave radio as strings of numbers, which she would type onto a decryption-equipped laptop to translate into text.

She was accused of supplying the identity of four US spies to Cuba, as well as other classified information.

Montes was arrested on September 21, 2001, shortly before the United States invaded Afghanistan. Her lawyer, a leading espionage specialist, said she had cooperated without reservation.

At her sentencing a year later, Montes argued that she had obeyed her conscience and that US policy towards Cuba was cruel and unfair. “I felt morally obliged to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values ​​and our political system on it,” she said.

Ricardo Urbina, the sentencing judge, ruled that she put fellow US citizens and the “nation as a whole” at risk.

On her release from prison, Urbina had ordered Montes should be placed under supervision for five years, with her internet access monitored and a ban from working for governments and contacting foreign agents without permission.

Under the president, Joe Biden, the United States has eased some sanctions on Cuba but maintained its cold war-era embargo on the island and stepped up restrictions on illegal migrants, arriving in record levels amid raging inflation and medicine shortages.

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