02:04 - Source: CNN
Mystery Cuban spy released to U.S.

Story highlights

Sources inside the government and out tell CNN his name is Rolando Sarraff Trujillo

He was released along with Alan Gross, in exchange for three convicted Cuban spies

Sarraff, a Cuban national, spent two decades in prison

(CNN) —  

Upon his release from prison, he was described by President Barack Obama as “one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in Cuba.”

Yet very little is known about the man.

U.S. officials have refused to release the spy’s name, but sources inside the government and out tell CNN his name is Rolando Sarraff Trujillo.

Sarraff, a Cuban national, was part of a historic deal reached this week between the United States and Cuba. He spent two decades in prison.

He was released along with Alan Gross, an American subcontractor held for five years, in exchange for three convicted Cuban spies.

“This man – whose sacrifice has been known to only a few – provided America with the information that led us to arrest the network of Cuban agents that included the men transferred to Cuba today as well as other spies in the United States,” Obama said Wednesday.

Who was released?

Sarraff, now in his early 50s, was discovered and convicted of espionage in Cuba in 1995.

According to the office of the director of national intelligence, he provided the U.S. government with information that “was instrumental in the identification and disruption of several Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States and ultimately led to … successful federal espionage prosecutions.”

Specifically, the U.S. intelligence office tied Sarraff to the conviction of one-time Defense Intelligence Agency senior analyst Ana Belen Montes, who was sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty of spying for the Cuban government in 2002.

Why the Cuba deal happened now

He’s also tied to the case of ex-State Department official Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn, who pleaded guilty in 2009 for illegally aiding the Cuban government for decades.

Sarraff played a role in helping federal authorities go after the Florida-based Wasp Network, including members of the Cuban Five. Three of those five were released this week as part of the deal.

“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,” the DNI office said.

The long history between the U.S. and Cuba

CNN’s Greg Botelho and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.