The identification and business card of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen are seen inside a display case at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Paul J. Richards | AFP | Getty Images
FBI Agent-turned-traitor Robert Hanssen, who spied for the old Soviet Union and later the Russians, died Monday in the cell where he was serving 15 consecutive life sentences for betraying his country, federal prison officials said.
Hanssen, 79, was “found unresponsive” around 6:55 a.m. at the federal “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.
Despite attempts to revive him, Hanssen was pronounced dead by the EMS workers who had tried to save him, the BOP said.
The FBI was notified but the BOP did not indicate whether Hanssen’s death was under investigation.
Hanssen began spying for the Soviets in 1979, three years after he joined the FBI.
Using the alias “Ramon Garcia,” the Chicago-born Hanssen sold “highly-classified national security information” to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash, bank funds, and diamonds, the FBI said on its official history page.
Hanssen was arrested in 2001 after making a dead drop in a Virginia park while under surveillance by the FBI, which had been watching him for months.
Caught red-handed, Hanssen pleaded guilty to selling thousands of classified documents over the years detailing U.S. strategies for nuclear war as well as counterintelligence information.
Hanssen also revealed to his Moscow spymasters the existence of an underground secret eavesdropping tunnel built by the FBI under the Soviet Embassy.
At the time the Justice Department described the situation as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history.”
Since July 17, 2002, Hanssen had been a prisoner at the Supermax, the most secure federal prison in the country — and home to other high-profile inmates like Al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, failed “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.