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CNN Today

Neighbors of Robert Hanssen Shocked of Reports of Espionage

Aired February 20, 2001 - 4:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: But again, we ask, who is Robert Hanssen? If Hanssen was leading a double life, he would seem to have done it well. His neighbors say they are truly shocked. CNN's Kathleen Koch is standing outside the Hanssen home in Vienna, Virginia today -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, as you said, most neighbors report that Robert Hanssen lived a very modest lifestyle in this quiet Vienna, Virginia neighborhood. Some neighbors did think that it was a bit odd that he and his wife Bonnie, who happens to be a part-time schoolteacher, were able, on their combined salaries, to send four of their six children, not to public schools, but to the most exclusive private Catholic academies in the area. So some people thought that was odd.

But all in all, most people say that Robert Hanssen was a very friendly man. He would speak to his neighbors, he was outgoing, most of them did know that he was worked with the FBI. Still, the news that he arrested for espionage came as a complete and total shock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, as an observer, it didn't -- they didn't appear to be unusual -- he didn't appear to be unusual in any way. I mean, there was nothing to raise the red flag or, you know, make me as an individual suspicious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: At least 12 FBI agents have been searching the Hanssen's home since about 7:30 this morning. We have seen them bringing out a variety of different objects. At one point, a long narrow cardboard box. At another point, a large grocery bag and then a sort of a small plastic case resembling a small suitcase. Of course, we have no clue as to what is inside any of those objects.

Also, we've seen the FBI take a ladder out of the Hanssen's garage and carry it around behind the home. So the FBI is going over this home -- every inch of it, scouring it for any additional evidence. The home itself is, again, rather modest: $205,000 sticker tag on it back when they moved here in 1987, and now valued at $300,000.

Still, most neighbors say, again, a very good family and a very quiet family and all of this news, quite a shock for the neighborhood -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Kathleen Koch for us in Vienna, Virginia.

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