- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

A federal judge yesterday ordered accused spy Robert Philip Hanssen to be held without bond, saying the FBI agent posed "a severe risk of flight."
U.S. District Judge Theresa Buchanan said that the government's evidence against the counterespionage specialist is "extraordinarily strong," and that Mr. Hanssen could pose a threat to society if free.
In a five-minute bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., yesterday, Mr. Hanssen wore a prison-issued green jumpsuit with the word "prisoner" printed on the back.
Mr. Hanssen, 56, sat quietly and spoke only once, when the judge asked if he knew he was entitled to a full detention hearing. "I do, your honor," he replied.
The 25-year FBI veteran was arrested Feb. 18 and charged with spying for the Soviet Union and Russia over the past 15 years. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
"Robert Hanssen possesses in his head enough secrets to cause significant damage to the United States," Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy I. Bellows told Judge Buchanan. "And given the sentence he faces, he poses a severe risk of flight."
Court documents filed by the prosecution note that FBI agents found a Swiss bank account number in Mr. Hanssen's briefcase, which prosecutors said confirmed him as a flight risk.
One of Mr. Hanssen's attorneys, Plato Cacheris, disagreed with Mr. Bellows but did not press the matter. "We don't object to the detention," he said.
Under an agreement reached last week between prosecutors and Mr. Hanssen's attorneys, a preliminary hearing or formal indictment was postponed until May 21. The agreement allows Mr. Hanssen's attorneys to look at some of the government's evidence against him, including a 109-page affidavit.
"There has been no plea discussion," said Preston Burton, another of Mr. Hanssen's attorneys, adding that neither side has broached the subject.
Mr. Hanssen's attorneys have entered a not-guilty plea, and Mr. Cacheris yesterday told reporters the affidavit has gaps. He did not provide details.
Prosecutors said Mr. Hanssen gave the Soviets and then the Russians more than 6,000 pages of U.S. secrets in exchange for $1.4 million $600,000 in cash and diamonds, and another $800,000 in escrow in a Moscow bank.
Mr. Hanssen is suspected of compromising the identities of several Russian agents spying for the United States. He also may have told the Russians about a U.S. espionage tunnel under the Russian Embassy in Northwest, according to a report Sunday in the New York Times.
Russia's Foreign Ministry yesterday demanded that the United States provide details. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement suggesting that Moscow was officially unaware of the tunnel's existence.
Investigators arrested Mr. Hanssen in a Fairfax County (Va.) park, not far from his home in Vienna, where he lived with his wife and six children. FBI agents said he had just left a package under a wooden footbridge, which they said was a "dead drop" site for delivering secret documents to his Russian handlers.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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