- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

The FBI yesterday arrested a longtime Defense Department intelligence analyst on charges of delivering classified U.S. national defense secrets to Cuba over the past five years.

Ana Belen Montes, 44, who has worked as an analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency since 1985, was arrested by FBI agents at her office at the DIA's headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base. Prosecutors could seek the death penalty or life in prison for spying for the communist state.

A criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington said Mrs. Montes "conspired to communicate, deliver and transmit to the government of Cuba and its representatives, officers and agents, information relating to the national defense of the United States with the intent and reason to believe that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Cuba."

The DIA is assigned the task of providing the Pentagon with information on the military capabilities of foreign countries, along with troop strengths. It is considered one of the government's key national security operations.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division, said Mrs. Montes was arrested without incident.

He said FBI agents had obtained search warrants for her home, located in the 3000 block of Macomb Street Northwest, and also for her car, her office at DIA and her safe-deposit box at a Riggs Bank. No information on what agents found was disclosed.

During an appearance yesterday afternoon before a magistrate in U.S. District Court in Washington, Mrs. Montes was ordered to be held without bail. She did not enter a plea in the case.

In a 17-page FBI affidavit, the senior DIA analyst was accused of being in contact by shortwave radio with Cuban intelligence service officials. The affidavit said she transmitted substantial amounts of classified information to the Cubans using encrypted codes.

FBI agents covertly entered Mrs. Montes' home under a court order in May and, according to the affidavit, discovered several Defense Department documents. Included in the documents was what the affidavit described as information concerning a 1996 war games exercise conducted by the U.S. Atlantic Command. The affidavit said Mrs. Montes had attended the war games in Norfolk as part of her DIA duties.

The affidavit said that the Cubans responded to the war games information with a message that said: "Practically everything that takes place there will be of intelligence value. Let's see if it deals with contingency plans and specific targets in Cuba."

Agents also partially recovered a message from a hard drive on her laptop computer dealing with "a particular special access program related to the national defense of the United States," according to the affidavit, which noted that the document was so sensitive it could not be publicly revealed in the court records. The DIA said Mrs. Montes was briefed on the program in 1997.

The affidavit also said that the veteran analyst may have disclosed to Cuban intelligence officials the pending arrival of a U.S. military intelligence officer in Cuba. As a result of that suspected disclosure, the affidavit said the Cuban government "was able to direct its counterintelligence resources against the U.S. officer."

The Cuban government's response to the tip-off, according to the affidavit, was a note from Mrs. Montes' intelligence contacts: "We were waiting here for him with open arms." The Cubans at one point advised Mrs. Montes that the information she had been providing had proven to be "tremendously useful."

Mrs. Montes is the second top U.S. government official accused of spying for Cuba in the past 15 months. In June 2000, Mariana Faget, a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service official, was found guilty of espionage after he got caught in a government sting while passing secret information to a friend with ties to Cuba.

Faget, once the acting deputy director of the INS office in Miami, had a security clearance giving him access to confidential information about Cuban defectors and dissidents. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

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