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Accused spy Hanssen indicted

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Accused spy Robert Hanssen was indicted Wednesday on 21 charges of conspiracy and espionage, including 14 charges that could result in his facing the death penalty.

U.S. Attorney Ken Melson said the charges cover acts over 15 years in which Hanssen "betrayed his country."

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Criminal espionage indictment filed against Robert Phillip Hanssen:
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A 25-year FBI veteran, Hanssen was arrested in February on charges he sold U.S. secrets to Moscow over a 15-year period in exchange for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.

Hanssen has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday and arraignment is set for June 1.

Attorneys for Hanssen had told CNN on Tuesday that they expected the indictment, indicating that talks about a possible plea bargain had fallen apart when the government refused to drop the possible use of the death penalty.

In making their case, the FBI said Russian intelligence officers never knew the identity of the spy they worked with.

Prosecutors say Hanssen passed up to 6,000 pages of top-secret documents to Soviet and Russian agents during the 15-year period. Among the information Hanssen allegedly provided the KGB -- Moscow's intelligence-gathering agency -- were the identities of three KGB officers who were U.S. double agents. Two were executed when they returned to Moscow.

Sen John Kyl, R-Arizona, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the problem with trying to strike deals in spy cases is "knowing whether or not the accused spy is really going to cooperate."

"In other words, will he really tell everything that you want to know in exchange for, for example, not seeking the death penalty," Kyl said.


Greta@LAW






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