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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"There isn't much hard detail yet"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 15:21 GMT
FBI agent arrested for spying
FBI headquarters in Washington DC
An internal audit revealed a mole within the FBI
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a veteran agent on suspicion of spying for Moscow for the past 15 years.

Robert Hanssen
Aged 56, father of six
Counter-terrorism expert
Adviser to the State Department
FBI agent for 27 years
Suspected of spying after internal audit
Allegedly disclosed electronic spying methods
Robert Philip Hanssen, 56, a counter-terrorism expert who has worked for the FBI for 27 years, was detained on Sunday at his home outside Washington.

It is alleged he had just dropped off a package of classified information at a park in northern Virginia.

The father of six is said to be only the third FBI agent ever accused of spying.

The FBI says it had suspected him of spying for several months, and believes Mr Hanssen may have caused extensive damage to US security.

Mr Hanssen is due to appear in court to be formally charged at 11am local time (1600GMT) in Alexandria, Virginia.

Security chiefs are to hold a news conference later on Tuesday to provide details about the arrest and Mr Hanssen's alleged spying activities.

Among the secrets allegedly disclosed were methods the US uses to conduct electronic surveillance.

He also may have confirmed for the Russians information originally given to them by American spy Aldrich Ames, a veteran officer at the Central Intelligence Agency who sold secrets to the former Soviet Union which led to the deaths of American agents.

Russian documents

Mr Hanssen is said to have been first suspected of being a spy for Russia several months ago after an internal intelligence audit revealed the presence of a mole in the FBI.

The US then secretly obtained Russian documents that led them to suspect him.

Mr Hanssen's most recent job has been based at FBI headquarters in Washington.

His previous posts included performing surveillance on Russian Government missions to the US.

He was also involved in advising the State Department about security.

Previous cases

In 1997, Earl Pitts, who was stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after admitting he spied for Moscow during and after the Cold War.

The only other FBI agent ever caught spying was Richard W Miller, a Los Angeles agent who was arrested in 1984 and later sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Last year, a former Army officer was accused of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for 25 years.

Prosecutors said retired Army Reserve Colonel George Trofimoff, a civilian intelligence employee, was captured on videotape putting his hand to his heart and telling an undercover officer posing as a Russian agent: "I'm not American in here."

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Americas
Fifty years of spies
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Who's being spied on?
02 Dec 99 | Europe
US 'spy' recalled
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