Ana Belén Montes, a former U.S. intelligence official who became one of the highest-ranking people to ever get caught committing espionage, was finally released on Friday after spending more than two decades in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Prison said in a statement that Montes has been released from the federal prison that she has been staying in at Fort Worth, Texas after having spent more than two decades imprisoned, according to CNN.

Montes was arrested in 2001 and pleaded guilty in 2002 for conspiracy to commit espionage after she reportedly used her high-level position at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in order to leak information to the Cuban government, The Guardian reported.

She had reportedly been under investigation since 2000, but she was arrested in 2001 in response to the World Trade Center attacks, since she reportedly had access to the United States’ plans against Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Montes had been working for the DIA since 1985, and she reportedly received messages from Cuba through a short-wave radio that she decrypted using a laptop. Among the information she had supplied was the identities of four spies in Cuba who were working for the U.S.

She allegedly raised suspicion about her status after she had failed to remain on duty during an international crisis in 1996 at the Pentagon, before the FBI ended up working with DIA counterintelligence officer Scott Carmichael to prove her guilt.

After her arrest, her lawyer said that she had cooperated with authorities, and clarified that the reason why she had betrayed the U.S.’ confidential information to Cuba was due to the belief that the country’s policy to the Latin American country was unfair.

FBI Special Agent Pete Lapp, who led the investigation against Montes, said that she had believed that U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting rebels in Central America was unjust and that “the US didn’t have the right to impose its will on other countries.”

Ricardo Urbina, the judge who had sentenced her to 25 years in prison, said that Montes would be under supervision for the next five years, and would have her internet access monitored and be banned in general from working with governments.

Cuban Spy Prison Release Rep. Pic
A former U.S. intelligence official who had been convicted of committing espionage on behalf of the Cuban government was released on Friday after twenty years in prison. This is a representational image. Marten Newhall/Unsplash.

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