FBI agent Robert Hansen, exposed as Moscow spy, dies at 79

Robert Hanson, a former FBI agent sentenced to life in prison for spying for Moscow in one of the most damaging espionage cases in US history in 2002, was found dead in his cell at a federal prison in Colorado. Monday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. He is 79 years old.

At the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, Mr. Hanson was found unresponsive and pronounced dead after lifesaving efforts by emergency medical personnel, the bureau said in a statement.

Mr. The report did not provide a cause of death for Hanson.

Mr. Hansen has been in custody at the maximum-security Florence Lockup since July 17, 2002, after pleading guilty to 15 counts of espionage and being sentenced to life in prison without parole in May of that year.

Mr. Hansen joined the FBI as a special agent in 1976 and held several counterintelligence positions that gave him access to classified information. Three years after he joined the bureau, he began spying for the Soviet Union, when he was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in New York and broke into the New York offices of the Soviet trade organization Amtorg. Military Intelligence Agency.

He stopped spying for several years, beginning in 1980, when his wife, Bonnie, walked up to him in the basement of their home in Westchester County, NY, and he quickly tried to hide his papers. He confessed to her and to a priest affiliated with Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic organization the couple belonged to.

In 1985, he began spying again, informing the KGB, this time using encrypted communications and other secret methods, doing a better job of covering his tracks. Identifying himself only by code names such as B and Ramon Garcia, Mr. Hanson told the KGB about three of its officers spying for the United States, and revealed the existence of a tunnel built under the FBI and the National Security Agency. Soviet Embassy in Washington. His betrayal of the tunnel cost the United States hundreds of millions of dollars, government officials said.

As he collected more than $1.4 million in cash and diamonds in exchange for “highly classified national security information,” according to the FBI, Mr. Hanson’s work went undiscovered for many years.

In the 1990s, after Aldrich Ames, a CIA agent who had spied for the Russians, was arrested, the FBI and CIA realized they were providing more classified information to Russia. But until 2000, the agencies were unable to locate the Russian documents.

He was arrested in February 2001 in Virginia Park after leaving classified documents with his Russian handlers.

This is a growing story.

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