WASHINGTON – Lawyers for Robert Hanssen said they expect the former FBI counterintelligence agent to be indicted Wednesday on charges of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.
Hanssen's lawyers and federal prosecutors had been in plea bargain discussions. Hanssen's lawyers said Tuesday the talks stalled because prosecutors demanded to know what Hanssen would tell them about his alleged 15 years of spying for Moscow before they would rule out seeking the death penalty.
The government offered to extend the discussions for 30 days, but Hanssen's lawyers declined.
"We expect he will be indicted Wednesday" on 21 counts of espionage and other charges, said Plato Cacheris, a Hanssen attorney.
"We felt they had more than enough time to resolve the issue of the death penalty," said Cacheris. "We do not think the death penalty is justified."
Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden declined to comment.
A preliminary hearing in the Hanssen case is scheduled for Monday, the deadline for federal prosecutors to hand down an indictment.
Hanssen was arrested Feb. 18 at a Virginia park where prosecutors said he left a package containing intelligence documents, allegedly for his Russian handlers.
The FBI has accused Hanssen, 56, a 25-year veteran agent and father of six, of passing along to Soviet and later Russian agents 6,000 pages of documents on secret programs that described how the U.S. gathers intelligence, technologies used for listening, people who work as double agents and other highly sensitive matters.
The government has asserted that Hanssen's activities began in 1985 and continued until he was arrested.
In exchange for the secrets, Hanssen was paid about $1.4 million in cash and diamonds, officials say.
The FBI began investigating Hanssen only last year. He has been held in jail at an undisclosed location.