The Obama administration “has no intention” of releasing or swapping jailed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, according to a letter sent by the U.S. Department of State to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Aug. 19 letter, obtained by el Nuevo Herald, followed a number of news reports pointing to the possibility of freeing Montes — a top Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst on Cuban affairs who is serving a 25-year prison sentence — in exchange for Cuba handing over American fugitive Assata Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard.
The letter, addressed to committee chairman U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., says the State Department “want(s) to assure you that the United States government has no intention of releasing or exchanging Montes.”
Nunes had written to Obama on July 12 urging the president not to release or swap Montes, calling her “one of the most brazen traitors in U.S. history.” The State Department wrote that it was “responding on the president’s behalf.”
Montes, one of the top foreign spies captured in recent years, authored some of the key U.S. intelligence assessments on Cuba. She was arrested in 2001 and was sentenced in 2002 after she pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba throughout her 16 years at the DIA.
“Montes was — and remains — unrepentant. She betrayed the public trust, the security of the United States and her oath to support and defend the constitution while remaining loyal to the Castro brothers in Havana,” Nunes wrote. “Ana Belen Montes richly deserved her 25-year prison sentence, and must serve every day of it.”
“She betrayed the public trust, the security of the United States and her oath to support and defend the constitution while remaining loyal to the Castro brothers in Havana” — U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
Montes, who is of Puerto Rican descent, declared in a 2015 interview with the blog Cayo Hueso, which supports the Cuban government, that she has not changed. “I will not be silenced. My commitment to the island cannot be ignored,” she was quoted as saying.
Nunes’ letter noted that because of her senior post at DIA, Montes has compromised every single U.S. intelligence collection program that targeted Cuba, revealed the identity of four covert U.S. intelligence agents who traveled to Cuba and provided Havana with information that could have wound up in the hands of other U.S. enemies.
“In short, Montes was one of the most damaging spies in the annals of American intelligence,” the committee chairman wrote.
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