Prosecutors ask judge to guard intelligence secrets during spying trial

Thursday , July 05, 2018 - 5:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. prosecutors have filed a motion in federal court asking that classified information be walled off from disclosure during the case of a Syracuse man accused of spying for China.

The Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) allows the government to seek measures from the courts to protect national security during a trial involving classified material.

RELATED: FBI says accused spy from Syracuse made escape plans, warned of Chinese

Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, of Syracuse, was arrested in Seattle and charged June 2 with four felonies, including working as an agent of a foreign government.

He remains held at a high-security U.S. Bureau of Prisons detention center in the Seattle area pending trial in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court.

In documents filed Monday, July 2, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund asked Judge Dee Benson to schedule a pretrial hearing to set procedures for litigating questions about the admissibility of classified information.

According to the Justice Department, CIPA balances the right of a criminal defendant with the right of the government to know in advance of a potential threat from a criminal prosecution to the national security.

The law requires a defendant who plans to disclose, or cause the disclosure of, intelligence secrets to provide adequate notice, accompanied by a summary of the classified material.

Lund’s motion said the government also plans to seek a protective order to prevent Hansen from disclosing any classified information already in his possession.

Another part of the CIPA process involves intelligence background checks for any people representing the defense who may need to have access to classified material during the case.

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Since his indictment, no attorneys have been identified in court records to represent Hansen in Salt Lake City. A federal public defender who represented him at his initial court appearance in Seattle on June 4 has not responded to messages seeking comment.

Hansen was arrested after an FBI sting in which he allegedly received secret U.S. military information for sale to Chinese agents, according to court records.

The U.S. Army veteran and former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency case officer could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted on the charges against him: acting as an agent of a foreign government, bulk cash smuggling, structuring illegal monetary transactions and smuggling goods out of the country.

Hansen for several years furnished Chinese agents with intelligence information and export-controlled encryption software in return for $800,000 and was preparing to hand over intelligence documents classified as secret, the FBI alleged.

The FBI said it began investigating Hansen in 2014. A year later, Hansen met nine times with Salt Lake City FBI agents, offering to work as a double agent.

 

On June 2, Hansen met in Seattle with a DIA officer whom the FBI said Hansen approached in 2016 in an effort to recruit the man to provide military secrets.

The DIA gave its officer and the FBI an actual top-secret military document to show to Hansen at a Seattle hotel, the indictment said. Hansen took extensive notes and asked detailed questions.

Agents then arrested Hansen, who had a flight to China scheduled from Seattle. He was booked into the King County jail and turned over to U.S. Marshals.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEMarkShenefelt.

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