For Immediate Release
FBI National Press Office
FBI Agent Arrested and Charged with Espionage
of FBI Director Louis J. Freeh
On the Arrest of FBI Special Agent Robert Philip Hanssen
John Ashcroft, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and United States
Attorney Helen Fahey announced today that a veteran FBI
counterintelligence Agent was arrested Sunday by the FBI
and charged with committing espionage by providing highly
classified national security information to Russia and the
former Soviet Union.
At the time of
the arrest at a park in Vienna, Virginia, Robert Philip
Hanssen, age 56, was clandestinely placing a package containing
highly classified information at a pre-arranged, or "dead
drop," site for pick-up by his Russian handlers. Hanssen
had previously received substantial sums of money from the
Russians for the information he disclosed to them.
Louis J. Freeh expressed both outrage and sadness. He said
the charges, if proven, represent "the most serious
violations of law -- and threat to national security."
of trust by an FBI Agent, who is not only sworn to enforce
the law but specifically to help protect our nation's security,
is particularly abhorrent. This kind of criminal conduct
represents the most traitorous action imaginable against
a country governed by the Rule of Law. It also strikes at
the heart of everything the FBI represents -- the commitment
of over 28,000 honest and dedicated men and women in the
FBI who work diligently to earn the trust and confidence
of the American people every day."
of cases are the most difficult, sensitive and sophisticated
imaginable. I am immensely proud of the men and women of
the FBI who conducted this investigation. Their actions
represent counterintelligence at its very best, reflecting
dedication to both principle and mission. It is not an easy
assignment to investigate a colleague, but they did so unhesitatingly,
quietly and securely."
Hanssen was charged
in a criminal complaint filed in Federal court in Alexandria,
Virginia, with espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage,
violations that carry a possible punishment of life in prison,
and under certain circumstances, the death penalty. Following
the arrest, FBI Agents began searching Hanssen's residence,
automobiles and workspace for additional evidence.
A detailed affidavit,
filed in support of the criminal complaint and search warrants,
provides a troubling account of how Hanssen first volunteered
to furnish highly sensitive documents to KGB intelligence
officers assigned to the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.
The affidavit chronicles the systematic transfer of highly
classified national security and counterintelligence information
by Hanssen in exchange for diamonds and cash worth more
than $600,000. Hanssen's activities also have links to other,
earlier espionage and national security investigations including
the Aldrich Ames and Felix Bloch cases, according to the
alleges that on over 20 separate occasions, Hanssen clandestinely
left packages for the KGB, and its successor agency, the
SVR, at dead drop sites in the Washington area. He also
provided over two dozen computer diskettes containing additional
disclosures of information. Overall, Hanssen gave the KGB/SVR
more than 6,000 pages of valuable documentary material,
according to the affidavit.
alleges that Hanssen compromised numerous human sources
of the U.S. Intelligence Community, dozens of classified
U.S. Government documents, including "Top Secret"
and "codeword" documents, and technical operations
of extraordinary importance and value. It also alleges that
Hanssen compromised FBI counterintelligence investigative
techniques, sources, methods and operations, and disclosed
to the KGB the FBI's secret investigation of Felix Bloch,
a foreign service officer, for espionage.
Freeh said that
although no formal damage assessment could be conducted
before the arrest without jeopardizing the investigation,
it is believed that the damage will be exceptionally grave.
During the time
of his alleged illegal activities, Hanssen was assigned
to New York and Washington, D.C., where he held key counterintelligence
positions. As a result of his assignments, Hanssen had direct
and legitimate access to voluminous information about sensitive
programs and operations. As the complaint alleges, Hanssen
effectively used his training, expertise and experience
as a counterintelligence Agent to avoid detection, to include
keeping his identity and place of employment from his Russian
handlers and avoiding all the customary "tradecraft"
and travel usually associated with espionage. The turning
point in this investigation came when the FBI was able to
secure original Russian documentation of an American spy
who appeared to the FBI to be Hanssen, which subsequent
Freeh said the
investigation that led to the charges is a direct result
of the combined and continuing FBI/CIA effort ongoing for
many years to identify additional foreign penetrations of
the U.S. intelligence community. The investigation of Hanssen
was conducted by the FBI with direct assistance from the
CIA, Department of State and the Justice Department, and
represents an aggressive and creative effort which led to
this counterintelligence success. Freeh said, "We appreciate
the unhesitating leadership and support of Attorney General
John Ashcroft from the moment he took office."
Freeh also expressed
his gratitude to Helen Fahey, United States Attorney for
the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant United States
Attorney Randy Bellows, and senior Justice Department officials
Robert Mueller, Frances Fragos Townsend, John Dion and Laura
Ingersoll for their contributions to the case.
Attorney Fahey said, "In the past decade, it has been
our unfortunate duty to prosecute a number of espionage
cases -- Ames, Pitts, Nicholson, Squillacote, Kim, Boone,
and others. With each case, we hope it will be the last.
Today, however with the arrest of Robert Hanssen, we begin
again the process of bringing to justice a U.S. Government
official charged with the most egregious violations of the
public trust. The full resources of the Department of Justice
will be devoted to ensuring that those persons who would
betray their country and the people of the United States
are prosecuted and severely punished."
to express my appreciation for the outstanding work done
by the National Security Division and the Washington Field
Office of the FBI in this investigation. Their superlative
work in this extraordinarily sensitive and important investigation
is testament to their professionalism and dedication. We
also express our deep appreciation for the outstanding assistance
provided by the Internal Security Section of the Criminal
Division of the Department of Justice."
Freeh and CIA
Director George Tenet kept the Intelligence Committees of
Congress, because of the clear national security and foreign
policy implications, informed about the case.
As a result of
Hanssen's actions, Freeh has ordered a comprehensive review
of information and personnel security programs in the FBI.
Former FBI Director and Director of Central Intelligence
William H. Webster will lead the review. Webster, currently
in private law practice, brings a "unique experience
and background in government management and counterintelligence,"
Freeh said. "Moreover, the respect he enjoys throughout
the intelligence community and elsewhere in government is
second to none. Judge Webster will have complete access
and whatever resources that are necessary to complete the
task and will report directly to Attorney General Ashcroft
and me. I will share his report with the National Security
Council and then Congress as well," Freeh said.
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