- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

Convicted spy Robert Hanssen the disgraced former FBI agent was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for selling secrets to Russia and the Soviet Union for more than two decades.
In U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Hanssen, 58, a former counterintelligence specialist, told a packed courtroom filled with FBI agents and Justice Department officials: "I apologize for my behavior. I'm shamed by it. I've betrayed the trust of so many."
Hanssen's espionage was considered among the most damaging in U.S. history. It caused at least two Soviet KGB officers spying for the United States to be executed.
The 25-year FBI veteran avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty last year to providing Moscow with sensitive secrets in exchange for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds and by agreeing to discuss his crime fully with federal investigators.
Not everyone in the government was satisfied that Hanssen was completely forthcoming during 75 interviews and more than 200 hours of debriefings. Nevertheless, prosecutors and defense attorneys asked Chief U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton to sentence the defendant to life in prison without parole, which had been agreed to in the plea bargain.
"I have opened the door for calumny against my totally innocent wife and children," Hanssen, a father of six, said as he stood before Judge Hilton.
"For all this, I stand ready to accept the sentence of this court," said Hanssen, who admitted spying for Russia and the Soviet Union for 22 of his 25 years with the FBI.
He began his treachery in 1979 three years after he joined the FBI. He continued until he was arrested in February 2001 in Foxstone Park in Vienna, Va., after dropping off classified material to be picked up by his Russian handlers.
FBI officials ignored numerous red flags with regard to Hanssen. When his brother-in-law told the bureau he believed Hanssen was spying, he was not taken seriously. Hanssen was caught with help from a Russian defector.
Hanssen's wife, Bonnie, and their children were not present at his sentencing. His lawyer, Plato Cacheris, said in an interview after the sentencing they "just didn't want to get involved with the press."
"They are dismayed, but they remain supportive. His wife visits him every week" at the Alexandria Detention Center, where he is incarcerated, Mr. Cacheris said.
He said Judge Hilton will recommend that Hanssen be transferred to the Allenwood Federal Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pa., where fellow spies Aldrich Ames and John Walker are imprisoned.
In an unusually caustic sentencing memorandum filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy L. Bellows described Hanssen as a "traitor, who covertly and clandestinely provided the Soviet Union and then the Russians information of incalculable significance, extraordinary breadth and exceptionally grave sensitivity."
"He did so knowing that his disclosures could and ultimately did get people killed and imprisoned, and he did so knowing that they placed in jeopardy the safety and security of our entire nation," Mr. Bellows added.
The prosecutor pointed out that Hanssen's misconduct compromised Seregey Motorin and Valeriy Martynov, two KGB officers recruited by the United States intelligence services who were put to death by the Soviets. "Even though [convicted CIA spy] Aldrich Ames also compromised each of them, and, thus, shares responsibility for their executions, this in no way mitigates or diminishes the magnitude of Hanssen's crimes," Mr. Bellows wrote.
Altogether, Hanssen gave the Russians more than 6,000 pages of highly classified documents. His "systematic compromise of comprehensive intelligence material concerning past successes and failures, current activities and capacities, and future intelligence plans could only have left the Soviets and Russians in stunned disbelief that they should be privy to such material," Mr. Bellows wrote in the sentencing memorandum.
In July, Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of spying for Moscow as part of the plea agreement with the government.
The deal could have been declared null if it could have been proved that Hanssen was not always truthful. But Mr. Bellows said prosecutors did not have enough evidence "to prove a breach of the plea agreement."
What is more, he said, the government had to be concerned about how trying Hanssen would affect national security.
Mr. Cacheris said he does not agree with those "who raise claims Robert Hanssen was not completely truthful" in answers he gave interrogators.
CIA officials said they were displeased with Hanssen's contentions that he suffers from a poor memory. And the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General said Hanssen's answers to its investigators often were "contradictory, inconsistent or illogical."
Mr. Cacheris said there were some "insignificant glitches" in his client's responses. But he said he's convinced that federal prosecutors would have sought to "abort the plea agreement" if they had proof Hanssen was lying.
Hanssen wore a green prison uniform at his sentencing proceeding and was described as looking gaunt, tired, and thinner than he did when he was arrested more than a year ago.
"He has lost a lot of weight. He does not find the food he's getting in prison palatable. He does have a gaunt appearance," Mr. Cacheris said.


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