Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation Of The Spy Ana Belén Montes

Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation Of The Spy Ana Belén Montes

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana 27 February 2017 – This Tuesday, a
campaign launches in Cuba for the liberation of Ana Belén Montes, a
former intelligence analyst for the United States Defense Intelligence
Agency, condemned for espionage and considered a "prisoner of
conscience" by the government of Havana. The initiative includes
concerts, conversations, and publications on social networks with the
hashtag #FreeAnaBelenMontes.

The governing party seeks to revitalize the case of the spy, who was not
included on the list of prisoners pardoned by Barack Obama at the end of
his term. Now, efforts are focused on "getting her released through
diplomatic negotiations," according to official sources consulted by
this newspaper.

Montes was arrested in September 2001 in Washington and sentenced to 25
years in prison for espionage assisting the Havana government.
Currently, after her cancer diagnosis and mastectomy, she remains
imprisoned in the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Carswell, located on a
U.S. Navy Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas.

For many years, the analyst provided substantial information to the
Cuban Intelligence Agency, including military data following a visit to
El Salvador, which Havana passed on to the FMLN guerillas (Marabundo
Martî Front for National Liberation). That information served to inform
an attack on a barracks in 1987 in which 65 soldiers perished, including
an American.

The cause for the liberation of the ex-official maintains a low profile
in comparison to the media coverage that surrounded the campaign for the
five Cuban spies belonging to the Red Avispa (Wasp Network). In recent
months, however, a photograph of Montes has appeared in various events
organized by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the People (ICAP)
and other official entities.

Last year, the life of the Pentagon spy came to the screens through an
episode of 'Declassified,' a documentary series released on CNN. The
presenter of the program, Mike Rogers, former chair of the House of
Representatives Intelligence Committee, guided spectators through the
evidence that led to Montes' arrest.

Like a fast-paced thriller, the documentary included the clue of a
purchased Toshiba laptop, which led the FBI right to the spy, found in
her apartment with information revealing her connection with the
Island's intelligence services; a code table found in her bag completed
part of the investigative jigsaw puzzle.

The promoters of her release rely on International Amnesty's definition
of "prisoner of conscience," considered as an "individual that has been
imprisoned for their race, religion, skin color, language, sexual
orientation or beliefs, as long as they have not propagated or practiced
violence." Her Cuban defenders argue that Montes did not receive
payments from the Cuban government for her services nor was she
recruited through "sordid blackmail." They define her as someone that
faced risks "for love of justice and honorary solidarity for the cause
of the Cuban revolution."

In October 2015 the Cuban Committee for the Liberation of Ana Belén
Montes was created in Havana. The organization relies on various global
affiliates and for months its objective was to demand a "presidential
pardon" for the ex-official. The members systematically sent letters to
the American government seeking her liberation.

A rumor about the possible exchange of Montes for Joanne Chesimard,
alias Assata Shakur, who is a refugee in Cuba and wanted for the murder
of a police officer in New Jersey, faded away without it being
confirmed. The fugitive, who is on the Ten Most Wanted List in the
United States and for whose capture there is a posted reward of 2
million dollars, continues to live out her days in Havana.

In the weeks leading up to Obama's White House departure, demands for
the liberation of Montes rose to new heights. "She deserves now, more
than ever, a presidential pardon, now that the U.S. speaks of
normalizing relations with Cuba," declared organizers of the committee.

This Tuesday Belén Montes turns 60 years old. Her release date is
anticipated to be in 2023 and nothing points to her being released
before that time.

Translated by Chavely Garcia.

Source: Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation Of The Spy Ana Belén Montes
– Translating Cuba -

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