Department of Justice Seal



FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2001

(202) 514-2007


TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, DC Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson today released the following statement regarding Robert Philip Hanssen's guilty plea:

  • "This morning, former FBI Special Agent Robert Philip Hanssen publicly admitted that he engaged in a 15-year-long conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States. In a plea agreement accepted by Judge Hilton, Hanssen pleaded guilty to that conspiracy, to 13 different acts of espionage and to one count of attempted espionage.

  • "Under this plea agreement, Hanssen will spend the rest of his life in federal prison, with no possibility of parole. Hanssen betrayed the trust of his country on the highest level imaginable, and today's plea ensures that he will be held fully accountable.

  • "This case reminds us that the United States remains a target of efforts at home and abroad to undermine our national security, and that our vigilance in defense of our nation's security must be uncompromising. The Department of Justice will continue to work with members of the U.S. Intelligence Community to protect our national security and to hold accountable individuals who threaten our security by espionage or other means.

  • "As you know, the charges against Hanssen carried the potential for the death penalty to be imposed. Given the gravity of Hanssen's betrayal, and the strength of the government's case, the decision to forego the death penalty in this case was a difficult one. In reaching this decision, we determined that the interests of the United States would be best served by pursuing a course that would enable our government to fully assess the magnitude and scope of Hanssen's espionage activities -- an objective we could not achieve if we sought and obtained the death penalty against him. The guilty plea that Hanssen has entered today requires him to submit to extensive debriefings by the U.S. Intelligence Community. The information we expect to receive in these debriefings will enable our government to assess fully the scope and consequences of Hanssen's espionage activity.

  • "Today's plea marks the culmination of a lengthy and complex investigation. I want to first commend the FBI for its exemplary work in investigating this extremely sensitive and painful matter. The successful resolution of this case is proof of the FBI's professionalism, skill, and dedication. The men and women of the FBI should be proud of their work in this case, and they have our thanks and gratitude.

  • "I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the many other men and women throughout the United States government who contributed to bringing Hanssen to justice. In particular, I want to commend the outstanding work of the CIA and other elements of the Intelligence Community and their cooperation with the FBI. In addition, the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Internal Security Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division have worked tirelessly on this investigation to ensure that Hanssen was brought to justice."