VIENNA, Va. — Federal agents yesterday seized computer equipment from the home of suspected FBI mole Robert Philip Hanssen.
The equipment is expected to be turned over to the FBI’s Computer Analysis Response Team for examination.
Experts there will try to recover computer files to help the government build its case against FBI veteran Hanssen, who’s accused of selling vital U.S. secrets to Russia over the past 15 years.
The files also may help assess the damage to national security, the full extent of which is not yet known.
Hanssen is known to be “highly skilled in the use of computers and computer programming,” according to the FBI’s search warrant request.
In fact, he maintains his own computer server and is a registered Linux user, WorldNetDaily has learned.
Linux is an open-source software operating system, meaning the basic code is available free to anyone. Unlike Microsoft Windows, programmers can modify it.
Linux is mostly used to run servers, but IBM now offers it on its laptops.
As of March 1, 1997, Hanssen owned an IBM Thinkpad 365E, according to Electronic Oasis Consulting Inc.
The government listed a laptop as one of the computers it wanted to search in Hanssen’s home.
Authorities suspect Hanssen may have used his home computers to conduct espionage, possibly storing “extraordinary amounts of information” on them.
Hanson has accessed the Internet from his home computer through a low-cost provider called Northern Virginia Internet Access Cooperation, using the e-mail account [email protected] He also has an address at [email protected]
Agents say they’ve already found a reference to a “dead drop” site on his hand-held personal digital assistant — a Palm III.
The secret site — code-named “Ellis” — was allegedly used by Hanssen to leave packages with highly classified materials for Russian agents. He allegedly hid the packages on a concrete ledge under a footbridge in a small, poorly lit park about one mile from his Vienna, Va., home.
He was arrested Sunday after allegedly dropping off another classified package for his Russian handlers at Foxstone Park.
During a search of Hanssen’s FBI office, investigators say they also found letters to Russian agents on a memory storage card.
Using the codename “B,” Hanssen allegedly corresponded with the KGB and its successor Russian intelligence service, the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki).
He also allegedly sent them encrypted messages by computer diskette.
The government’s 100-page complaint charges that since 1985 — the height of the Cold War — Hanssen has sent the KGB and SVR 27 letters, and left them 22 classified packages and 26 diskettes containing more classified information.
All told, he allegedly gave Russia more than 6,000 pages of classified documents, including Top Secret and code-word information — some of it involving the anti-ballistic missile, or “Star Wars,” program and Russia’s effort to gather information about the U.S.
He also allegedly compromised a Top Secret, highly compartmented U.S. government program by providing Russian agents with five rolls of film containing a tightly restricted and classified 1997 analysis of the foreign threat to the unnamed program.
What’s more, the complaint alleges Hanssen also revealed the identity of three U.S. moles in Russia, resulting in the execution of two of them.
In exchange, Russia allegedly paid Hanssen more than $600,000 in cash — in used $100 bills — and diamonds. Another $800,000 was allegedly held in escrow accounts for him.
The FBI is calling it one of America’s worst cases of espionage. If convicted, Hanssen could face the death penalty.