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Lawyers: Accused spy Hanssen to be indicted Wednesday

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lawyer for former FBI agent Robert Hanssen said he expects his client to be indicted Wednesday on espionage charges.

Preston Burton, an attorney for the former counterintelligence agent, said Tuesday plea bargain talks with the government have broken down.

Burton said he expected an indictment of Hanssen to come Wednesday on charges that Hanssen was a spy for Russia and the former Soviet Union.

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.

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 that 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.

Timeline: The FBI under Louis Freeh

A source familiar with the talks says the government wanted more time to negotiate, and that its refusal to rule out the death penalty under any circumstances led to the impasse.

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.

If Hanssen is convicted of the spying charges, he could receive life in prison or even the death penalty.

• Federal Bureau of Investigation

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