FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who spied for the former Soviet Union and then Russia, died Monday in the penitentiary where he was serving 15 consecutive life sentences for betraying the United States.
Hanssen, 79, was “found unresponsive” at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, according to a statement released by the FBI.
The statement gave no details on the reason for the death, but said no inmates or prison staff were injured and there was no danger to others at any time.
The prisoner was pronounced dead by the emergency crews who treated him at the scene.
Hanssen was arrested in 2001 and pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage for selling highly classified material to the Soviet Union and Russia during the last years of the Cold War. He had been in prison in Colorado since 2002.
On its website, the FBI describes him as “the most damaging spy” in the country’s history, as he provided Russians with national security information “in exchange for $1.4 million (R$6.8 million) in cash, bank funds and diamonds”. His espionage activities began in 1985, nine years after he joined the FBI.
Hanssen worked under the alias “Ramon Garcia” with the Russians and provided classified information that compromised “numerous human sources, counterintelligence techniques, investigations and dozens of classified government documents”, including to the KGB and its successor agency, the SVR, he claims. the FBI.
Thanks to his experience and training, Hanssen went unnoticed for years, although his activities raised some suspicions during his time working with Moscow.
In the 1990s, after the arrest of CIA agent Aldrich Ames for collaborating with the Russians, the CIA and FBI realized that there must be another spy on their teams who was sharing classified information, until they located Hanssen.
The American was arrested after being caught in the act in a Virginia park, where he was trying to contact another spy.
Months later, he pleaded guilty to selling thousands of classified documents to Moscow, containing data on US nuclear war strategy and counterintelligence information, among others.
Hanssen also warned the Russians of the existence of a secret tunnel built by the FBI under the Russian embassy in Washington to carry out eavesdropping and was accused of compromising dozens of Russians who had collaborated with the US, some of whom were executed.
At the time, the Department of Justice described the situation as “arguably the worst intelligence disaster in US history”.
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