Former top Cuba analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Belén Montes, was released after spending 21 years behind bars.

She became outraged over Washington’s treatment of Cubans and, in breach of the law, leaked sensitive information to Havana over a span of 16 years. She was the highest US official to have access to the reports and plans of the various agencies with regard to Cuba. Her expertise was such that she was nicknamed the “Queen of Cuba” and was decorated by the director of the CIA, George Tenet (photo).

She acted strictly out of moral conscience, without waiting for anything in return.

During her trial, she stated:

"Your honor, I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. I believe our government’s policy towards Cuba is cruel and unfair, profoundly unneighborly, and I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it. We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. We have never respected
Cuba’s right to make its own journey towards its own ideals of equality and justice. I do not understand why we must continue to dictate how the Cubans should select their leaders, who their leaders cannot be, and what laws are appropriate in their land. Why can’t we let Cuba pursue its own internal journey, as the United States has been doing for over two centuries?
My way of responding to our Cuba policy may have been morally wrong. Perhaps Cuba’s right to exist free of political and economic coercion did not justify giving the island classified information to help it defend itself. I can only say that I did what I thought right to counter a grave injustice.
My greatest desire is to see amicable relations emerge between the United States and Cuba. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding. Today we see more clearly than ever that intolerance and hatred — by individuals or governments — spread only pain and suffering. I hope for a U.S. policy that is based instead on
neighborly love, a policy that recognizes that Cuba, like any nation, wants to be treated with dignity and not with contempt. Such a policy would bring our government back in harmony with the compassion and generosity of the American people. It would allow Cubans and Americans to learn from and share with each other. It would enable Cuba to drop its defensive measures and experiment more easily with changes. And it would permit the two neighbors to work together and with other nations to promote tolerance and cooperation in our one `world-country,’ in our only ’world-homeland’."

She was arrested in 2001, and sentenced for espionage. Held in isolation in a military psychiatric hospital, her social contacts were restricted to her walks, alongside violent inmates. She had no access either to newspapers or television and was subjected to conditions of detention which were nothing short of cruel and degrading.