Former FBI Agent Hanssen Pleads Guilty to Spying
Hanssen’s plea brings to a close one of the most serious espionage cases in American history.
Hanssen, who acknowledges he had been handing over classified information intermittently since 1979, will be required to provide a full confession detailing secrets he sold the Russians. If officials determine that he has cooperated truthfully and fully, he will then receive a full life sentence instead of the death penalty.
“We believe this is an appropriate resolution of this matter that is beneficial to the government and to Mr. Hanssen and his family,” Hanssen’s lawyer, Preston Burton, said today at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Extensive damage to the FBI
During his time as a spy, prosecutors allege that Hanssen, 57, handed over thousands of pages of classified documents. Information that was betrayed included the identities of Russian agents who worked as double agents for the United States — they were later executed.
He also exposed how the United States intercepted satellite transmissions via a secret tunnel under the Soviet Embassy in Washington, as well as detailing how the United States would retaliate against a nuclear attack.
Hannsen was arrested on February 18, after the government caught him on video tape making a final drop at a park near his house in Vienna, Virginia.
As a part of his plea bargain with the government, Hanssen’s wife and six children will be allowed to keep their house and cars in the DC suburb. His wife will also receive a survivor’s annuity, equivalent to 55 percent of his government pension.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton set sentencing for Jan. 11 to allow time for the debriefings.