Veteran FBI agent arrested for spying for Russia


WASHINGTON, Reuters

A 27-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia for the past 15 years, the FBI said on Tuesday.

FBI spokeswoman Jill Stillman said FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested on Sunday at his home outside Washington after he allegedly dropped off a package of classified information at a park in northern Virginia.

“He was arrested for espionage,” Stillman told Reuters, adding that Hanssen was due to appear in federal court at 11:00 a.m. EST in Alexandria, Virginia.

Money motivated Hanssen to spy for Russia, FBI officials said.

“The damage is significant,” one U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. “The kinds of things he compromised involved documents, sources, operations.”

Among the secrets Hanssen, a counter-terrorism expert, allegedly disclosed were methods the United States uses to conduct electronic surveillance, the FBI said.

Neighbors of Hanssen in Vienna, Virginia, described him as a composed, dedicated, hard-working man who went to church every Sunday with his wife and six children.

FBI chief Louis Freeh was due to give a news conference at 1215 p.m. on Tuesday to provide details about the arrest and Hanssen’s alleged spying activities.

In Moscow, spokesmen for both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Intelligence Service said they had no details on the case and that they did not comment on matters of this type.

Hanssen’s neighbor, Nancy Cullen, said she was surprised by the arrest and had never suspected he was anything but a “dedicated, hard-working guy.”

“We are all in shock this morning,” said Cullen. “They are just the best of neighbors,” she said in an interview with CNN.