Department of Justice Seal



FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2001

(202) 514-2007


TDD (202) 514-1888


Plea Requires Hanssen to Serve Life
in Prison Without Parole

Attorney General John Ashcroft, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Kenneth E. Melson, and Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard today announced that former FBI Special Agent Robert Philip Hanssen has pleaded guilty to a 15-year-long conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States.

In addition, Hanssen pleaded guilty today to an indictment that contains 13 counts of substantive acts of espionage and one count of attempted espionage, before Chief U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton in the Eastern District of Virginia. The plea agreement requires Hanssen to serve life in prison, without possibility of parole.

Because the life sentence is binding on the Court, the plea agreement was submitted for the Court's consideration on June 14, 2001, and remained under seal until today's entry of the plea.

The plea agreement also requires Hanssen to submit to full debriefings by the United States Intelligence Community. These debriefings will enable the Intelligence Community to assess the full scope and consequences of Hanssen's espionage activity, and the damage he has caused his country.

Attorney General Ashcroft noted that the government's decision to enter into the plea agreement was contingent on Hanssen's candid, forthright, truthful, and complete participation in proffer sessions that were conducted under oath during the past two weeks under a separate proffer agreement. He stated that the FBI, the CIA, and the prosecution team agreed that Hanssen has satisfied the requirements of the proffer agreement.

The plea agreement is accompanied by a statement of facts in which Hanssen stipulates in detail to his activities as charged in the indictment. Hanssen pleaded guilty to the 14 most serious counts in the indictment, all but one of which involve his passing of Top Secret material to the Soviet Union.

Hanssen also has agreed to forfeit up to $1,437,000 in assets paid to him, or put aside for him, by the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian Federation. In addition, he forfeits his government pension, except for a portion that amounts to a survivor's annuity, pursuant to applicable statute, which his wife will receive contingent on her continued full cooperation in this matter. Hanssen also surrendered all rights to benefit financially, directly or indirectly, from publicity associated with his espionage activity. The plea agreement also prohibits Hanssen from having any unauthorized contacts with foreign governments or their agents.

"Given the gravity of Hanssen's betrayal and the strength of the government's case, the decision to forego the most severe penalty provided by law for this act was a difficult one," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "Based on the strong recommendation of the intelligence community, a judgement was made that it would be appropriate for the government to resolve this case in a manner that ensures Hanssen's truthful cooperation and protects national security information, while guaranteeing that Hanssen would spend every day of the rest of his life behind bars."

Attorney General Ashcroft expressed his deep appreciation for the tireless efforts and outstanding work of the FBI; the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and other members of the United States Intelligence Community; the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, and the Internal Security Section. This prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy I. Bellows, Justin W. Williams and Gordon D. Kromberg, and by Internal Security Section Senior Trial Attorney Laura A. Ingersoll.