By Jeff Stein, Newsweek
The unidentified United States spy being swapped as part of a diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba is almost certainly a former cryptographer in Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence who worked secretly for the CIA until he was arrested on espionage charges in the mid-1990s, according to a former U.S. intelligence officer and other sources.
Rolando “Roly” Sarraf Trujillo was “an expert on cryptography for the Cuban Ministry of Interior who was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to 25 years in jail,” says Chris Simmons, a former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist on Cuba.
“I know of all the Cubans on the list of people in jail and he is the only one who fits the description” of the unnamed asset who U.S. officials said was part of the deal to reestablish diplomatic relations between the two former Cold War adversaries. The agent, U.S. officials said, was swapped for the remaining three members of the so-called “Cuban Five” spy ring, a group of operatives arrested in Florida on espionage charges in 1998. Another element of the agreement, which ended a decades-long feud, was Cuba’s decision to free Alan Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development contractor imprisoned on the island since 2009, on charges of trying to subvert the state.
“I am 99.9 percent sure that Roly is the guy…” Simmons said in a telephone interview “He’s the only one who fits the description” of the unidentified U.S. intelligence asset being released by Cuba, he added.
In a speech on Wednesday, Cuban President Raul Castro said that a spy of “Cuban origin” was being released. And the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language edition also reported that its sources believe that Sarraff Trujillo was that man.
Neither Cuba nor the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) would identify the spy in question or comment on Sarraf Trujillo.
DNI spokesman Brian P. Hale said in a prepared statement that the asset being released spent 20 years in a Cuban prison for his work for the United States. Many of the details of his cooperation are classified, but Hale said he was “instrumental in the identification and disruption of several Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States and ultimately led to a series of successful federal espionage prosecutions.”
Indeed, according to Hale, the spy “provided the information that led to the identification and conviction of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) senior analyst Ana Belen Montes; former Department of State official Walter Kendall Myers and his spouse Gwendolyn Myers; and members of the Red Avispa network, or ‘Wasp Network,’ in Florida, which included members of the so-called Cuban Five.”
Simmons said that, “just as a matter of elimination,” it’s Sarraf Trujillo.
Feature continues here: Spy Swap