Robert Philip Hansen, $1.4 million in cash and diamonds for information It gave to the Soviet Union and Russia, has died, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced Monday. He is 79 years old.
Hanson has been in custody at USP Florence ADMAX, Colorado since July 17, 2002.
“On Monday, June 5, 2023, at approximately 6:55 a.m., inmate Robert Hansen was found unresponsive at the United States Penitentiary (USP) Florence ADMAX in Florence, Colorado,” according to a statement released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “Responding personnel immediately began life-saving measures. Employees requested emergency medical services (EMS) and life-saving efforts continued.
“Mr. Hansen was later pronounced dead by EMS personnel,” the release said.
In 2001, Hansen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage and conspiracy, in exchange for which the government did not seek the death penalty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Investigators accused him of compromising dozens of Soviet operatives serving in the United States, some of whom were executed. He shared details of several US technology activities such as eavesdropping, surveillance and communications interception. And how he gave American plans for a Soviet nuclear attack, protecting high-ranking government officials and responding to such an attack.
Three years after joining the FBI as a special agent, Hansen began spying for the Soviet Union in 1979.
The counterintelligence officer worked as a spy for nearly 15 years, during some of the most consequential times for U.S.-Russia relations and continuing past the end of the Cold War. In the 1980s he retired from spying for four years after his wife Bonnie’s conviction.
In a letter Hansen allegedly wrote to the Russians, he said he was inspired as a teenager by the memoirs of British double agent Kim Philby.
“I decided on this course when I was 14 years old,” he said in the letter, quoted in the FBI affidavit. “I would read Philby’s book. Now that’s crazy, man!
The FBI began tracking Hanson in 2000 after he was identified from fingerprints and a tape recording provided by a disgruntled Russian intelligence director.
After his capture in 2001, Hanson told his American interrogators, “I could have been a disastrous spy, I suppose, but I didn’t want to be a disastrous spy. I wanted to get some money and get out of it.
Hansen apologized for his actions during his sentencing in 2002. Beyond its illegality, I have torn the faith of many. Worse, I opened the door to defamation against a completely innocent wife and our children. I hurt them deeply. I have hurt many people deeply,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional details.