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CNN Today

FBI Charges One of Its Own With Espionage

Aired February 20, 2001 - 2:31 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story of the day and of the hour: a 27-year veteran of the FBI stands accused of spying for the Russians. Robert Philip Hanssen charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage for alleged activities dating back 15 years.

Hanssen was arrested Sunday at a park near his home in Virginia, after he allegedly put classified information in a place where it could be recovered by his contacts.

The FBI say Hanssen supplied vital information to the Russians and compromised counterintelligence efforts, as well as the safety of human sources.

He is being held without bond; faces a March 5th hearing where he will enter a plea in the case.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hanssen is a husband and father of six who, neighbors say, lives a quiet, seemingly ordinary life in suburban Northern Virginia.

For more, we're joined by CNN's Kathleen Koch who's been getting reaction from Hanssen's neighborhood in Vienna -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, FBI agents continue combing over every square inch of this very quiet -- of this modest home in this very quiet neighborhood of Vienna, Virginia.

Just about two minutes ago, I saw an FBI agent remove a ladder from Mr. Hanssen's garage and carry it around behind the house. About 45 minutes ago, agents began carrying out some evidence. We saw them bring out a very long, three foot by one foot, very thin cardboard box. Also, they carried a large grocery-size bag, and then a plastic case, a black case about the size of a small suitcase, and put those into an FBI vehicle.

So, they're clearly very carefully going over every inch of this home to see if there is any evidence to strengthen their case.

Neighbors here are completely stunned. They say this is a family that has lived here since 1987. Their children played together in the cul-de-sac here. Parents walked their children to school; the school is just up the street. So, it is a very quiet neighborhood. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone here is stunned today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many knew the fact that he was with the FBI, and so we've always known that. Bonnie teaches classes part-time at religious high school, the catholic high school. She teaches religious studies, and the kids are great kids -- well-educated, polite, nice kids -- it's just a great family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They didn't appear to be unusual. He didn't appear to be unusual in any way. I mean, there was nothing that would raise a red flag or, you know, make me, as an individual, suspicious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Real estate reports show that this split-level home was bought by the Hanssens back in 1987 for a price of $205,000. It's now valued at about $300,000, but neighbors say that they saw no diamonds, they say no signs of any outward opulence on the part of the family. They would drive to school every Sunday in a beaten-up old van, so they clearly did not show any signs whatsoever of having spent any of this money that the FBI says Mr. Hanssen allegedly received from the Soviets.

I'm Kathleen Koch, reporting live from Vienna, Virginia.

ALLEN: And, Kathleen, any sign of the family?

KOCH: No sign of family whatsoever today. We do understand that the Hanssens have six children. Some of them are married and grown, some them are away at college right now.

Earlier, we did see a young woman come out of the home with a brown paper bag over her head and jump into the rear seat of an FBI vehicle. That vehicle sped away. We don't know if that was, perhaps, an undercover FBI agent, or if it was, indeed, one of the children who had been in the home during the search.

ALLEN: All right, Kathleen Koch. Thanks, Kathleen. Now, here is Lou.

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