Ana Montes

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Ana Belen Montes
Mugshot of DIA's Ana Montes.jpg

Born(1957-02-28) February 28, 1957 (age 57)
NationalityUnited States
OccupationIntelligence analyst
 
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Ana Belen Montes
Mugshot of DIA's Ana Montes.jpg

Born(1957-02-28) February 28, 1957 (age 57)
NationalityUnited States
OccupationIntelligence analyst

Ana Belén Montes[1] (born February 28, 1957) is a former senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the United States. On September 21, 2001, she was arrested and subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for the government of Cuba. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying and in October 2002, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by five years probation.[2][3]

Life and career[edit]

Montes was born in West Germany, where her father, Alberto Montes, was posted as an Army doctor.[3] Her family members were of Asturian origins since her grandparents had emigrated to Puerto Rico.[1] The family later lived in Topeka, Kansas and then Towson, Maryland, where she graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1975. In 1979 she earned a degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and in 1988 she finished a master's degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.[3]

Montes' brother and sister, Lucy and Tito, became FBI officers and her former boyfriend, Roger Corneretto, was an intelligence officer specializing in Cuba for the Pentagon.[4] It was later revealed that her Puerto Rican father had conservative views, and had a strained relationship with his more radical daughter.

Ana Montes receiving an award from CIA director George Tenet

Montes joined the DIA from the United States Department of Justice in September 1985. Her first assignment was at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington where she worked as an intelligence research specialist. In 1992, Montes was selected for the DIA's Exceptional Analyst Program and later traveled to Cuba to study the Cuban military.[3]

Prior to her arrest, she lived in a two bedroom co-op in Cleveland Park, Washington, DC.[3] Montes advanced rapidly through the ranks at DIA and became its most senior Cuban analyst.[citation needed] Her co-workers regarded her as responsible and dependable, and noted her "no-nonsense" attitude. Prosecutors would later allege that Montes was already working for the Cubans when she joined the DIA in 1985.[3]

Espionage[edit]

In their charging documents, federal prosecutors stated:[3]

"Montes communicated with the Cuban Intelligence Service through encrypted messages and received her instructions through shortwave encrypted transmissions from Cuba. In addition, Montes communicated by coded numeric pager messages with the Cuban Intelligence Service by public telephones located in the District of Columbia and Maryland. The codes included 'I received message' or 'danger.'"

The prosecutors further stated that all of the information was on water-soluble paper that could be rapidly destroyed.

During the course of the investigation against her, it was determined that Montes passed a considerable amount of classified information to Cuba's government, including the identities of four spies. In 2007, DIA counterintelligence official Scott W. Carmichael publicly alleged that it was Ana Montes who told Cuban intelligence officers about a clandestine U.S. Army camp in El Salvador. Carmichael alleged that Montes knew about the existence of the Special Forces camp because she visited it only a few weeks before the camp was attacked in 1987 by Cuban-supported guerrillas of the FMLN.

Carmichael, who had led DIA's investigation of Montes, named Montes as being directly responsible for the death of Green Beret SGT Gregory A. Fronius who was killed at El Paraíso, El Salvador, on March 31, 1987 during the FMLN attack. Carmichael characterized the damage Montes caused to the DIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies as "exceptionally grave," and stated that she compromised a "special access program" that was kept even from him, the lead investigator on her case.[5]

Encryption/decryption "cheat sheet" used by Montes

In a May 6, 2002 interview with CBS News, former Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated that an official 1998 U.S. government report with significant contributions by Montes concluded that Cuba did not represent a significant military threat to the United States or the region. Bolton alleged that it was not possible to exclude the possibility that the administration of President Bill Clinton may have overlooked Cuba as a potential threat because of Montes' influence and the way she shaped reporting at DIA.[6]

Carmichael further alleged that many in the U.S. intelligence community believed that Montes' penetration of the DIA was not the exception, but the rule, and that the Cuban intelligence services had numerous spies and moles within U.S. intelligence agencies.[5]

In 2004 a Federal indictment alleged that Montes had assistance from another Cuban agent, Marta Rita Velazquez, once a legal officer at the State Department’s Agency for International Development, who also was alleged to have recruited Montes into espionage. The Federal indictment was unsealed in April 2013. Velazquez has been outside the US since 2002, apparently in Sweden, which does not have an extradition treaty with the US for spy cases.[7]

Arrest[edit]

Montes was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at her office on 20 September 2001. Prosecutors stated that Montes had been privy to classified information about the U.S. military's impending invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, and that they did not want her revealing this information to potential enemies.[3]

In 2002, Montes pleaded guilty to the charge which could have carried the death penalty, but was sentenced to 25 years in prison in October of the same year after accepting a plea agreement with the U.S. government.[3] According to her lawyer, Plato Cacheris, Montes committed the espionage based upon moral reasons, as "She felt the Cubans were treated unfairly by the U.S. government."

Incarceration[edit]

Montes is currently incarcerated at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.[3] FMC Carswell is listed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a facility located in the northeast corner of the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, which provides specialized medical and mental health services to female offenders.

Montes is listed as FMC Register #25037-016. Her tentative release date is listed as July 1, 2023. There is no parole in the US federal prison system.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Oviedo, María José IGLESIAS. "Ana Montes, la asturiana que espió para Fidel." La Nueva España. 28 April 2013. "Ana Belén Montes, nieta de asturianos del oriente de la región que emigraron a Cuba y Puerto Rico,[...]"
  2. ^ "An Unrepentant Montes Sentenced to 25 Years". The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. October 2002. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Popkin, Jim. Ana Montes did much harm spying for Cuba. Chances are, you haven’t heard of her. Washington Post Magazine, April 18, 2013.
  4. ^ Popkin, Jim. Ana Montes did much harm spying for Cuba. Chances are, you haven’t heard of her. April 18, 2013
  5. ^ a b Bill Gertz (March 2007). "DIA official warns about Cuban spies". Washington Times. 
  6. ^ Bolton, John. "John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, "Beyond the Axis of Evil: Additional Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction," Remarks to the Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC, May 6, 2002". Vincent Ferraro, Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Charge in Cuban spy case unsealed, accusing ex-State Dept. officer of conspiracy. Washington Post/ Associated Press, Thursday, April 25, 2013.

Further reading[edit]