Ana Montes: Former top spy says she will live in Puerto Rico

Image source, CBS

Image caption,

Ana Montes after her release from prison

Ana Montes, a long-time Cuba spy recently released from prison in the US, has landed in her native Puerto Rico.

In a statement, Montes said she is now focused on leading a private life.

She has also called attention to difficulties facing people in Puerto Rico and the ongoing US embargo on Cuba.

Montes spent 20 years in custody after she was found to have been spying for Cuba for two decades.

The 65-year-old was called one of "the most damaging spies" by a US official.

Her spying, conducted during her time as an employee at the Defence Intelligence Agency, is said to have significantly exposed US intelligence operations in Cuba.

During her time at the agency, her colleagues, who did not know about her spying, dubbed her "the Queen of Cuba" because of her expertise in the region,

She was arrested in 2001 by the FBI, just 10 days after the attacks of 9/11.

On Friday, Montes was freed from a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

In the first statement to the media since her release, Montes said that she hoped the focus would shift away from her and towards what she said were "serious problems" facing people in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

"I, as a person, am irrelevant. I don't matter," Montes said in her statement, written in Spanish. "There are serious problems in our global homeland that require attention."

The island of Puerto Rico, where Montes' grandparents immigrated to from Spain, is still reeling from significant damage after a series of powerful hurricanes and an earthquake that hit the region in recent years.

Many in Puerto Rico - a territory of the US - have accused the US government of not doing enough to help its people recover and rebuild their homes.

Meanwhile, Cuba has been under a US embargo for 60 years, which is said to have had a significant economic impact on residents of the island.

The embargo began following the Cuban revolution in 1959, which saw Fidel Castro rise to power and strengthen relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union.

The United Nation estimates the embargo has cost Cuba around $130bn (£106.55bn).

In November, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the ongoing US embargo on the island.

Montes has long spoken openly against US government policies in Central America. According to the FBI, she was recruited as a spy by Cuba after they sensed that she would be sympathetic to their cause.

When she began working at the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1985, Montes was already spying for Cuba.

She went undetected for many years, partly due to her ability to type up information from memory on her personal laptop outside of work hours, instead of removing classified documents from the agency. She then transferred information to Cuban officials onto encrypted disks.

Montes was detained in September 2001 after US intelligence officials received a tip that a government employee was spying for Cuba. She then pled guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

She will remain under supervision for five years upon her release and will have her internet use monitored. Montes is also banned from working for the government.