Cuba Exchanges 'Intelligence Asset' for Three Spies He Helped Imprison

Cuban soldiers bearing their national flag / AP
December 17, 2014

In a statement released by the U.S. Department of State Wednesday, the Director of National Intelligence detailed the heroic actions of a "Cuban individual" who aided the Defense Intelligence Agency in disrupting a number of Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States.

The statement confirms that the "intelligence asset" helped locate and convict members of the "Red Avispa," or "Wasp Network"--three of whom were returned to Cuba as part of the exchange:

Today, the United States secured the release of a Cuban individual from a Cuban prison who provided critical assistance to the United States.  Information provided by this person was instrumental in the identification and disruption of several Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States and ultimately led to a series of successful federal espionage prosecutions.

This man, whose sacrifices were known only to a few, has spent nearly 20 years in a Cuban prison due to his efforts on behalf of the United States. While many details of this individual’s cooperation remain classified, with his release today we can now discuss some of his contributions to U.S. national security.  

The information obtained from this individual eventually led to the convictions of Ana Belén Montes--who was arrested for espionage in 2001 while working as a senior analyst for the DIA--and former State Department official Walter Kendall Myers who, along with his wife Gwendolyn, had provided intelligence to the Cuban government for more than 30 years.

On Wednesday, President Obama's announcement that the U.S. was normalizing relations with Cuba and exchanging three convicted Cuban spies for a Cuban "intelligence asset" was praised by Cuban president Raul Castro.

The statement praised the sacrifice of the "Cuban individual"--who spent nearly 20 years behind bars--and heralded the 'closure' of a chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations:

In light of his sacrifice on behalf of the United States, securing his release from prison after 20 years–in a swap for three of the Cuban spies he helped put behind bars–is fitting closure to this Cold World chapter of U.S.-Cuban relations.