Robert Hanssen had enjoyed the perfect Sunday.
A long breakfast with his family followed by mass at the local church and a game of frisbee with his best friend Jack.
At 7pm on a blistering February evening in 2001, he had one more errand to run.
Looking around to check he was alone, he clambered underneath a wooden footbridge, took the package wrapped in a black bin bag from his tweed jacket and slipped it into the metal structure.
Afterwards, on the way back to his Ford Taurus, he stuck a small piece of white tape on the sign for Foxstone Park, a small suburb in Vienna, Virginia, to alert his handlers he had been.
But while he was fishing his car keys out of his pocket, the father-of-six was swooped on by several of the 300 FBI agents who had been working on his case.
As he was being handcuffed, the man who is still known as “the most damaging spy in bureau history”, turned to his former colleagues and said: “What took you so long?”
On Monday Hanssen, 79, was found unresponsive at a maximum-security facility in Florence, Colorado, where he was serving a life sentence for 15 counts of espionage.
One of the FBI’s most notorious spies, his work as a double agent for Moscow went undetected 22 years.
Secrets he divulged for a total of $1.4 million (£1.13 million) included details on the US government’s planned response to a nuclear attack and a multi-million dollar eavesdropping tunnel built by the FBI under the Soviet Embassy.
He also doled out the names of KGB agents Valery Martynov and Sergei Motorin, who were both lured back to Moscow, tried for espionage and shot in the head. Another double agent, Aldrich Ames, had also given their names to the Russians.
Hanssen also betrayed Gen Dmitri Polyakov, a CIA informant who had passed information to US intelligence since the early 1960s while rising to the rank of general in the Soviet army. Following Hanssen’s revelations, he was posted back to Moscow and in 1988 was sentenced to death for treason.
Hanssen, who studied Russian at university before joining the FBI in 1976, began feeding information to the Soviet Union in 1979.
It was then his wife, Bonnie Hanssen, discovered he was dealing with the Russians when she found him covering up documents in the basement of their home.
He assured her he was only giving them false information. But, disconcerted, she took him to the local priest to confess, who said he should donate the $30,000 he had been paid to Mother Theresa’s Catholic charity and stop working with them.
But in October 1985, Hanssen sent a letter to Viktor Cherkashin, Moscow’s chief counterspy at the Soviet embassy, saying he would leak classified information for $100,000.
Using aliases including B and Ramon Garcia, he relied on “dead drops”, physically leaving material for his handlers to discover in suburban areas of Virginia.
Hanssen refused to ever meet Moscow face-to-face, and it is thought they never knew his true identity.
The bureau began the hunt for him after the 1994 arrest of Ames, a CIA agent who was also spying for Russia, when the bureau realised that classified information was still being leaked.
He was caught almost two decades later when a disgruntled Russian intelligence officer gave the FBI a fingerprint Hassen left on one of the dropped garbage bags, a tape recording of a call with an agent.
To gather evidence against him, in 2000 the FBI gave him an obscure assignment with a small team working undercover to monitor him. At the time of his arrest there were reportedly 300 agents working on the case.
It was later discovered by an undercover agent that Hanssen had dreamed about spying against his country since the age of 14 after reading a book about Kim Philby, the British intelligence officer who was also a Russian double agent.
When asked why he had done it, Hanssen later told investigators it was the “fear of being a failure and fear of not being able to provide for my family”. He also said the FBI’s lax security amounted to “criminal negligence”.
Louis Freeh, the FBI director, called his betrayal “the most traitorous actions imaginable against a country governed by the rule of law”.
Hanssen was indicted on 16 May 2001. He pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2002.
Hanssen had lived a double life in more ways than one – outwardly an anti-Communist and devout Catholic father of six, but a frequenter of strip clubs who secretly filmed pornographic videos of his wife.
Dr Alan Salerian, who was hired by Hanssen’s defence team to examine him, said at the time: “[Hanssen’s] espionage was an escape from his sexual demons. When he found himself in exciting, dangerous positions, such as espionage and spying, he found that his demons slowed down.”
Asked why he thought Hanssen had done it, Eric O’Neill, the undercover FBI agent who monitored the spy for the three months until his arrest, told the BBC: “It was the thing that made him feel that he was the best at something in the world. No one was better. And he knew that it was going to make him immortal. And it did.”
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