- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2001

The FBI has identified a retired Army officer as the "old friend" whom suspected Russian spy Robert P. Hanssen suggested the KGB recruit as a spy, The Washington Times has learned.

Twice in an affidavit made public by authorities at the time of Mr. Hanssen's arrest, the anonymous "old friend" is mentioned as a recruitment target in a 1991 communication that federal investigators say was exchanged between the FBI special agent and his Russian handlers.

The FBI interviewed retired Army Lt. Col. Jack Hoschouer as part of its investigation after the arrest of Mr. Hanssen, a 27-year FBI veteran, on espionage charges, said law enforcement officials close to the case.

The FBI believes the KGB tried to recruit Col. Hoschouer, who was with Mr. Hanssen shortly before his arrest Feb. 18, as a spy in the early 1990s, the officials told The Times.

The officials said Col. Hoschouer spurned the recruitment offer and told Army authorities about it at the time.

Col. Hoschouer contacted the FBI last week, shortly after Mr. Hanssen was arrested, the officials said.

"We interviewed him after he came to us because of his concerns," said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We don't think he had anything to do with this."

Reached yesterday at his home in Germany by telephone, Col. Hoschouer acknowledged that he was questioned by the FBI but disputed that he had reported the Russian contact in the early 1990s as a KGB recruitment attempt. He suggested the contact was benign.

"If they pitched me, I was too dumb to know it," he said. Col. Hoschouer declined to comment further.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby told reporters yesterday that "there's an ongoing criminal investigation" stemming from Mr. Hanssen's arrest.

"Will it lead to others, or will it not? We're not sure," Mr. Shelby, Alabama Republican, said after a closed-door meeting with senior law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The senator said the matter is "a very, very grave, serious case."

Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke to reporters after the hearing. He described the hearing as "extensive."

"The committee is focused on the case appropriately with a view toward, I believe, helping us minimize the risks of these kinds of problems in the future," Mr. Ashcroft said.

"And I want to do everything I can to cooperate with the committee, along with doing what is possible to make sure that we avoid this kind of breach of national security in the future," he said.

The FBI is still investigating Col. Hoschouer, although he is not considered a target of the probe, the officials said. However, the officials added, "It's not over yet."

The probe of Col. Hoschouer is part of an expanding counterintelligence investigation aimed at identifying whether other Americans may have been recruited to spy for Moscow as a result of what some are calling the worst compromise of counterintelligence data in the FBI's history.

Several other people also are being questioned by the FBI as part of the probe that was launched after Mr. Hanssen's arrest.

Mr. Hanssen was a senior FBI counterspy who is charged with providing large amounts of intelligence documents to Moscow since 1985, including documents that identified recruited Russian agents working for the United States, who were later executed as a result. He received some $1.4 million worth of cash and diamonds in exchange for the documents, according to the FBI.

The FBI affidavit reveals correspondence between Mr. Hanssen, writing under the code name "B" and other code names, and the KGB and its successor spy agency, the SVR, the Russian acronym for Foreign Intelligence Service.

The affidavit states that the KGB asked "B" to identify officials with access to secrets who might be open to working for Moscow.

During a secret drop-off on Oct. 7, 1991, a computer diskette provided to the KGB contained a note from "B" with the name of "a particular 'old friend' whom he suggested the KGB try to recruit," the affidavit states.

"He explained that the man was a military officer who had recently been told he would not be promoted," it said.

"Hanssen had been friends with this individual since Hanssen was a teen-ager," the affidavit states.

The officials said the KGB proposition to Col. Hoschouer took place some time after the communication in late 1991 or early 1992.

Col. Hoschouer also reported the contact with a Russian official to the U.S. Army at the time, the officials said.

It could not be learned whether Col. Hoschouer was aware of Mr. Hanssen's espionage activities.

The Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony on the spy case from FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, CIA Director George J. Tenet, and Mr. Ashcroft. The three officials were questioned by the oversight committee for several hours on why the spy case was not detected sooner.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the answers provided by the officials, Mr. Shelby said: "We're not satisfied with anything at this point, because at this point in time, there's an ongoing criminal investigation."

"You know, there will probably be other spies… . Don't be surprised," Mr. Shelby said.

FBI court documents made public late Tuesday revealed that Mr. Hanssen left a package of documents for the Russians that included a message that he believed he had come under suspicion.

The message also stated that Mr. Hanssen had detected short-duration radio transmissions from his car, which he presumed was an electronic surveillance device.

"Since communicating last, and one wonders because of it, I have been promoted to a higher do-nothing senior executive job outside of regular access to information within the counterintelligence program," he stated. "It is as if I am being isolated."

The package contained classified FBI documents from October to December 2000, which included printouts of ongoing FBI counterspy cases involving Russians. It was recovered from under a footbridge at Foxstone Park in Northern Virginia.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide