The legendary American spy freed as Cuba - US relations have thawed

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The legendary American spy freed as Cuba - US relations have thawed
A picture said to be of Rolando "Roly" Sarraff Trujillo that was taken this year and posted to a website that advocated for his release from prison. (LIBERTAD DE ROLANDO SARRAFF)
This picture of Sarraff Trujillo was reportedly taken 10 years ago and posted to a website that advocated for his release from prison. (LIBERTAD DE ROLANDO SARRAFF)
Trujillo Sarraff as he looks in 1995, at 32-years-old, not long before being jailed in Cuba. It was also posted posted to a website that advocated for his release from prison. (LIBERTAD DE ROLANDO SARRAFF)
Alan Gross, 65, returning to U.S. soil on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, after having spent five years locked up in a Cuban prison. Sarraff Trujillo reportedly returned aboard the same plane as Gross. (The White House)
This photo provided by Sen. Patrick Leahy shows Alan Gross and his wife Judy in flight en route from Cuba to Andrews Air Force Vase, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as an easing in economic and travel restrictions on Cuba Wednesday, declaring an end to America's "outdated approach" to the communist island in a historic shift that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity. Wednesday's announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba. The re-establishment of diplomatic ties was accompanied by Cuba's release of American Alan Gross and the swap of a U.S. spy held in Cuba for three Cubans jailed in Florida. (AP Photo/Sen. Pat Leahy)
IN AIR - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross onboard a government plane headed back to the US with his wife, Judy Gross, December 17, 2014. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001.(Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
IN AIR - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross with his wife Judy, attorney Scott Gilbert, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD), Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT)., and Sen. Jeff Flake, (R-AZ). watch television onboard a government plane headed back to the US as the news breaks of his release, December 17, 2014. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001.(Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
IN AIR - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross takes a selfie with his wife, Judy Gross, onboard a government plane headed back to the U.S., December 17, 2014. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross on the tarmac with his wife, Judy Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert, Sen. Jeff Flake, (R-AZ), Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD) during his release December 17, 2014 at an airport near Havana, Cuba.. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross greets Patrick Leahy, (D-VT) Sen. Jeff Flake, (R-AZ), Sen.and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD) December 17, 2014 at an airport near Havana, Cuba.. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - DECEMBER 17: Alan Gross chats with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. as the final paperwork gets signed by a Cuban official on his release December 17, 2014 at an airport near Havana, Cuba.. Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. In a prisoner exchange, U.S. contractor Alan Gross was freed after being held in Cuba since 2009 and sent to Cuba three Cuban spies who had imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson/The White House via Getty Images)
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By RYAN GORMAN

The legendary U.S. spy jailed for two decades in Cuba who was released Wednesday into American custody has been identified.

Rolando "Roly" Sarraff Trujillo secretly worked as a CIA informant while with the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, Chris Simmons, a former government official told Newsweek. He was arrested in 1995 and originally sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The above pictures of the recently-freed man come from a blog set up by his family to advocate for his release. Libertad de Rolando Sarraff even shows letters sent home from behind bars.

The man's family now celebrating his freedom.

Roly was "an expert on cryptography," according to Simmons. He provided information that led to the arrest of the "Cuban Five," who were arrested in 1998 in Florida on espionage charges.

"I know of all the Cubans on the list of people in jail and he is the only one who fits the description" of the unnamed asset in question, Simmons added. "I am 99.9 percent sure that Roly is the guy."

Neither the U.S. government nor Raul Castro has named Roly as the spy, but the Cuban President did say a man of "Cuban origin" was being sent to the U.S. along with American Alan Gross.

A U.S. official did tell Newsweek that the spy 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."

The intelligence asset also "provided the information that led to the identification and conviction of Defense Intelligence Agency senior analyst Ana Belen Montes; former Department of State official Walter Kendall Myers and his spouse Gwendolyn Myers; and members of the Red Avispa network, or 'Wasp Network,' in Florida, which included members of the so-called Cuban Five," said the U.S. official.

It was also reported Wednesday by El Nuevo Herald, the Miami Herald's Spanish newspaper, that Roly was the man being returned with Gross.

Simmons, who was a Cuba expert with the Defense Intelligence Agency, claims it can only be Sarraf Trujillo -- "just as a matter of elimination."

Roly was caught passing information to the U.S. only days before he planned to defect to the U.S., according to Simmons, and barely escaped with his life.

"The only thing that saved him from execution was the fact that both his parents were retired senior intelligence officers," Said Simmons.

The "Cuban Five" were indicted on 25 separate espionage charges. Three of them returned home to Cuba as part of the deal that freed him and Gross.

Sarraff Trujillo landed Wednesday in Florida on the same flight that brought Alan Gross home.

Both are free as part of the deal that saw U.S. President Barack Obama and Castro announce a normalization of relations between the countries.

Obama's Speech on Cuba

Related links:
Obama: US will ease Cuban embargo, open embassy in Havana
Sen. Rand Paul says trade with Cuba 'probably a good idea'
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