WASHINGTON — A senior analyst with the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested Friday and charged with conspiring to spy for Cuban intelligence officials during the last five years.
An FBI affidavit said the analyst, Ana B. Montes, 44, delivered classified and secret material "relating to the national defense of the United States" to agents of President Fidel Castro's regime. She used laptop computers, a shortwave radio and a series of pay telephones and had been under surveillance by the FBI since last May, the affidavit said.
Intelligence analysts say Cuba often shares U.S. spy data with terrorist states.
Montes, who lived in Washington and worked at DIA offices at Bolling Air Force Base on the Potomac River, was being held without bond and did not enter a plea during a brief appearance Friday before a U.S. magistrate. Details of her arrest were not given.
Authorities did not detail what, if any, payments Montes may have received for her alleged espionage. The DIA, a division of the Defense Department, is a little-known sister agency of the CIA specializing in military intelligence.
The FBI affidavit said Montes, employed by the DIA since 1985 and currently the senior analyst on Cuban matters, received encrypted instructions by radio from her Cuban handlers and often responded with telephone calls she placed from pay phones in department stores and, on one occasion, at the National Zoo. Sometimes she also passed and received computer diskettes containing encrypted messages, the FBI said.
It was the third espionage case in Washington brought by the government this year, and the second in less than a month. On Aug. 24, a retired Air Force master sergeant working for a government contractor was charged with conspiring to spy for Libya.
In that case, Brian Regan allegedly stole classified data from his office at the National Reconnaissance Office, a super-secret federal agency that designs and operates the nation's spy satellites. However, the Montes and Regan cases are dwarfed by last February's arrest of Robert Philip Hanssen, an FBI counterintelligence agent who has pleaded guilty to spying for Russia over nearly a 20-year period in return for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
The 17-page affidavit on Montes said she compromised a U.S. intelligence agent in Cuba by tipping off her handlers to his arrival there in 1996. A communication from Cuban agents to Montes, later obtained by the FBI, called this information "tremendously useful" and added that "we were waiting here for him with open arms."
FBI court papers said that "as a result, the Cuban government was able to direct its counterintelligence resources against the U.S. officer." However, the agent apparently was not physically harmed.
Montes also provided useful information to Cuba about a December 1996 war games exercise conducted by the Navy's U.S. Atlantic Command, officials said. She observed the exercise herself and provided details about "contingency plans and specific targets" that were classified "secret," the affidavit stated.
If convicted, Montes could face a maximum of life imprisonment. In an earlier Cuban espionage case, five Cubans were convicted in June of conspiring to spy on the United States for Castro's regime. The leader of the group, Gerardo Hernandez, faces up to life in prison for his role in a Cuban air force attack that killed four U.S. fliers.