Published in The Miami Herald Friday, October 5, 2001

 

Cuba spy suspect's hearing delayed

BY FRANK DAVIES
[email protected]

WASHINGTON -- Ana Montes, the Pentagon intelligence analyst accused of spying for Cuba, will be defended by the law firm that represented two well-known convicted spies -- Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames.

Looking haggard but alert, Montes made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court Thursday. Her attorneys and federal prosecutors agreed to delay a preliminary hearing and detention hearing for 30 days.

U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson rescheduled those hearings for Nov. 5. Montes is being held without bond.

The 44-year-old analyst, charged with conspiracy to deliver national defense information to Cuba, conferred with her new attorney, Preston Burton, during the five-minute appearance. She wore a loose-fitting, gray prison blouse.

Burton and his partner, Plato Cacheris, represented Hanssen, the FBI counterintelligence agent who pleaded guilty in July to 15 counts of spying for Moscow. His sentencing has been delayed to ensure his cooperation and he is expected to receive life in prison.

Ames, a CIA officer, was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for spying for Moscow.

Burton and Cacheris also represented Monica Lewinsky during independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton.

After the court appearance, Burton said the 30-day delay was routine: ``We've just received this case -- it's a complex case with security clearances and we need sufficient time to deal with it.''

Burton refused to answer questions about Montes' demeanor, family or finances.

Before her arrest Sept. 21, Montes had risen through the senior ranks of U.S. intelligence analysts, briefing top officials and Capitol Hill staffers on Cuba. She also had access to the Intelink computer network of secret intelligence reports on a wide range of issues.

Several House members have warned that any information Montes gave Cuba could have been shared with hostile nations or terrorist groups.

``This is a very serious case. . . This is why Cuba must remain on the terrorist list and why Fidel Castro remains a threat to the United States,'' said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican.