Ana Montes, described as “one of the most harmful spies” in US history, has been released from federal prison in Texas. The double agent for Cuba was released Friday after more than 20 years in prison, according to data on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Montes, now 65, had a solid career in the US government, initially working for the US Department of Justice before joining the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 1985. She eventually became a senior intelligence analyst for Cuba – even nicknamed the “Queen of Cuba” – and served in this role until her arrest in 2001, days after the 9/11 attacks.
It turned out that Montes had spent her entire government career spying for Cuba, as she had been recruited by that country’s intelligence agency while a student at Johns Hopkins University. Officials at the time said it was believed Cuban intelligence (CIS) forced her to pursue the DIA career in the first place.
As a double agent, Montes allegedly passed highly sensitive information to the CIS for nearly 20 years. According to federal indictment documents, Montes was very careful, never took classified information from her work computer but instead learned it, and used water-soluble, easily destroyed paper to deliver the data to her Cuban handlers.
According to Bush-era head of US counterintelligence Michelle Van Cleave, Montes has become “one of the most damaging spies the United States has ever found”, who has compromised “pretty much everything” Washington knew about Cuba.
In 2002, Montes pleaded guilty to espionage charges that could have earned her the death penalty, but was ultimately sentenced to 25 years in prison under a plea deal. According to her lawyers, Montes was primarily motivated for espionage by the belief that “The Cubans were treated unfairly by the US government.”
Reacting to Montes’ release, Republican hardliner Senator Marco Rubio urged Americans to remember the double agent “for who she really is,” suggesting that she should not be pardoned even after serving her sentence.
“Montes betrayed our nation, but not for money. In fact, she never received payment for her actions — amazingly, she was motivated purely by hatred of America. Rubio wrote in an op-ed written for Americano Media.
After her release, Montes will remain under supervision for five years according to her sentence. She is prohibited from working for the government or contacting “foreign agents” without special permission, while internet access is closely monitored by authorities.
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