New book names ex-KGB defector who outed FBI agent Robert Hanssen as Russian spy

Robert HanssenA new book reveals for the first time the name of a former intelligence officer of the Soviet KGB who helped American authorities arrest Robert Hanssen, an American spy for the Soviet Union and Russia. The son of a Chicago police officer, Hanssen joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1976 and was eventually transferred to the Bureau’s Soviet analytical unit, where he held senior counterintelligence posts. It wasn’t until 2000, however, that the FBI realized Hanssen had spied for Moscow since 1979. Following Hanssen’s arrest in 2001, it emerged that he had betrayed the names of 50 FBI and CIA assets or informants, many of whom perished in the hands of the Russian intelligence services.

In 2002, the US Department of Justice opined that Hanssen had caused “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history”. He is currently serving 15 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. But despite numerous articles, reports and books on the Hanssen spy case, the story of the FBI investigation that led to his arrest remains at best fragmentary. A major question concerns the identity of the mysterious person that helped FBI counterintelligence investigators zero in on Hanssen after years of fruitless efforts to confirm suspicions of the existence of a Russian mole. It is known that the FBI paid the sum of $7 million to a former KGB officer, who delivered the contents of Hanssen’s Russian intelligence file. But the identity of that informant has not been revealed.

That may have changed as of last month, however, thanks to The Seven Million Dollar Spy, a book written by the late David Wise, a journalist and best-selling intelligence author who died on October 8, aged 88. Wise’s book, published posthumously on October 23 in audio book format, received little media attention. But Newsweek intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein said last week that the book might bring us a step closer to uncovering the identity of the individual who led to Hanssen’s capture. Stein explains that the mysterious informant had previously developed a business relationship with Jack Platt, a retired CIA case officer who after the end of the Cold War co-founded an international security consultancy with ex-KGB operative Gennady Vasilenko. The two men staffed their company with several American and Russian former spies. Among them was Anatoly Stepanov, a former case officer in the KGB. Stein reports that, according to Wise’s posthumous book, Stepanov is in fact the pseudonym of former KGB officer Aleksandr Shcherbakov. It was he who delivered Hanssen’s file to the FBI, thus facilitating his eventual capture. It is believed that Shcherbakov defected to the United States in 2010 where he continues to live today under an assumed identity.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 06 November 2018 | Permalink

Did FSB leak Russian double spy’s name to the media?

SVR seal

SVR seal

The revelation that a double agent betrayed the ten Russian deep-cover spies, who were arrested in the United States last summer, may have been leaked to the media as part of a turf war between two rival Russian spy agencies. On November 11, Russian newspaper Kommersant disclosed that a senior officer in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) had defected to the United States shortly before the arrest of ten Russian deep-cover spies by the FBI, on June 27, 2010. The paper identified the alleged double agent as “Colonel Shcherbakov”, believed by veteran KGB officer Oleg Kalugin to be Aleksandr Vasilyevich Shcherbakov. The Kommersant disclosure was later confirmed by no other than Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But who leaked Shcherbakov’s name to Kommersant, and why? According to Pavel Felgenhauer, military and intelligence correspondent for Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, the leak originated from within the Russian intelligence establishment. Specifically, Felgenhauer suggests that it was Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) that leaked the information to the media, in an attempt to score points against the SVR. Read more of this post

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