Ana Belén Montes - Leading Cuban Spy Freed After 20 Years In US Custody
Ana Montes, a leading Cuban spy freed after 20 years arrested by the US. The 65-year-old former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist spied for Cuba for over two decades.
She was arrested in 2001, and it was claimed at the time that she had revealed almost all US intelligence activities on the island. She was one of the "most devastating spies" the United States has apprehended, according to one officer.
Top Cuba spy Ana Belén Montes released after 20 years in US prison
Who Is Ana Montes?
The American citizen Ana Montes was found guilty of espionage for Cuba. Montes was spied on by Cuba in the 1980s while working as an analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon. She worked her way up to become the DIA's foremost expert on Cuba.
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She had access to US strike plans against Afghanistan and the Taliban in reaction to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, and as a result the FBI and DIA had been investigating her since the autumn of 2000.
Montes was detained on September 21st, 2001 in Washington, DC on charges of conspiring to provide defense intelligence to Cuba.
Following her guilty plea to espionage charges in early 2002, she was given a 25-year jail term. The judge who handed down Montes's sentence mandated that she be subject to five years of post-release supervision.
FBI Special Agent Pete Lapp was the one who finally took charge of the investigation into Montes and was the one who was responsible for Montes's arrest.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has spoken out against the release of Orlando "El Chapo" Montes, accusing him of betraying the United States and helping the communist dictatorship in Cuba.
Americans should remember Ana Belén Montes for who she really is, despite the fact that she has served her time in prison. If we forget this spy’s story, it will surely repeat itself.
- Marco Rubio, Florida Senator
How Cuba's Queen Was Recruited
Ana Montes, who is now 65 years old and nicknamed as the Queen of Cuba, was an American who, over the course of more than a decade and a half, passed so many military secrets from the United States to Havana that analysts believe the United States may never know the entire amount of the harm done.
During the year 1984, Montes had a clerical position at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, while also attending Johns Hopkins University to get his master's degree.
She found herself often screaming against former President Ronald Reagan's assistance for rebels battling pro-communist governments in Central America. She felt this support hypocritical.
She felt that the US didn’t have the right to impose its will on other countries.
- Pete Lapp, FBI Special Agent
Her relationships became tense as her outrage over US foreign policy attracted the attention of Cubans who tempted her to abandon her loved ones and her nation.
After having her strong feelings about Cuba brought to the attention of recruiters at Johns Hopkins, Montes committed to support the Cuban cause.
Around the same time, Montes sent in an application to work with the Defense Intelligence Agency, where they deal with classified information for the United States military. The FBI claims that by the time she began working there in 1985, she had already been completely recruited as a Cuban agent.
How Was She Captured?
In 1996, she was summoned to advise at the Pentagon amid an international issue, but she violated procedure by not remaining on duty. This led to suspicions. Four years later, DIA counterintelligence officer Scott Carmichael learned the FBI was seeking for a mole - an unnamed spy within the DIA who worked for Cuba. Carmichael and FBI agent James Lapp were able to demonstrate that Montes was a DIA informant.
She met with her Cuban handlers once a week at a different restaurant in Washington, DC, and exchanged coded messages carrying classified information by pager for over two decades. The short-wave radio communications were how she got her commands.
After US intelligence agencies got information that a federal employee seemed to be spying for Cuba, she was arrested in September 2001. According to one of the FBI officers who participated in the arrest, she showed no emotion at all.
Urbina had previously ordered that Montes be put under surveillance for five years after her release from jail. This included monitoring of her internet use and a prohibition on her working for governments or communicating with foreign agents without prior approval.
Despite record numbers of illegal immigrants entering in the midst of soaring prices and medication shortages, the United States has maintained its cold war-era embargo on Cuba and tightened restrictions on them under President Joe Biden.