Robert Hanssen, a former FBI agent who participated in one of the most infamous spy cases in the history of the United States by taking more than $1.4 million in cash and diamonds to leak secrets to Moscow, has passed away while in prison. Hanssen was discovered unresponsive in his cell at a federal correctional facility in Florence, Colorado, and later declared dead. According to a source familiar with the situation, Hanssen is believed to have died of natural causes. Since pleading guilty to 15 counts of espionage and other offenses in 2002, he had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The source, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, was not given permission to speak publicly about the specifics of Hanssen’s death.
Hanssen shared a vast amount of knowledge regarding American intelligence gathering, which included intricate information on how U.S. officials had accessed Russian spy operations dating back to 1985. It is believed that he played a role in the deaths of three Soviet officers who were working for U.S. intelligence and were executed after being exposed.In exchange for providing top-secret national security information to the Soviet Union and Russia, he received a sum exceeding $1.4 million in cash, diamonds, bank funds, and Rolex watches.
He opted for a simple lifestyle, residing in a modest suburban house in Virginia with his family of six children and driving a Taurus and minivan, instead of indulging in an extravagant way of living. Although Hanssen initially claimed that his actions were motivated by financial gain, a letter he wrote to his Soviet handlers in 1985 indicated that receiving a large payoff could cause complications as he would not be able to use the money without arousing suspicion. Going by the name “Ramon Garcia,” he furnished his handlers with around 6,000 documents and 26 computer disks, revealing eavesdropping methods, verifying the identities of Russian double agents, and disclosing other classified information. It was also believed that he alerted Moscow to a covert tunnel that the US constructed beneath the Soviet Embassy in Washington to conduct surveillance.
For years, he managed to evade detection, but further investigations revealed that there were warning signs missed. When he became the target of a search for a Russian spy, Hanssen was caught in the act of leaving a garbage bag full of classified information beneath a footbridge in a park as a “dead drop” for his Russian handlers.The tale was adapted into a film titled Breach in 2007, with Chris Cooper portraying Hanssen and Ryan Phillippe playing a young FBI agent who helps bring him to justice.
The FBI has been informed of Hanssen’s passing, as per the Bureau of Prisons.