A Syracuse man arrested on spying charges tried to recruit a Defense Intelligence Agency officer to provide the U.S. military’s “China ops plans” for delivery to Chinese agents, the FBI says in court documents.
A federal judge in Seattle on Monday ordered Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, held without bail pending prosecution on a 15-count indictment in the espionage case. FBI agents arrested Hansen on Saturday at the Seattle-Tacoma International airport.
Hansen, a former U.S. Army and DIA intelligence officer, began working with agents of the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security as early as 2012, according to the U.S. District Court indictment in Salt Lake City.
Through June 2018, Hansen traveled to and from China 40 times, meeting with Chinese intelligence agents and delivering sensitive information in return for more than $800,000 in cash, wire transfers and credit card payments, documents said.
During this time, Hansen attended military intelligence conferences in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere and provided detailed reports to the Chinese, the indictment said.
He also compiled information on U.S. Army Cyber Command and DIA sites, personnel and operations, and members of Congress from Utah, the indictment said.
In 2012, Hansen tried to get rehired by the DIA and applied to become a staff member for the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The FBI said it began investigating Hansen in 2014. A year later, Hansen met nine times with Salt Lake City FBI agents “in an attempt to offer his cooperation as a source.”
Hansen offered to act as a double agent because the Chinese had asked him to spy, but the FBI said it did not accept the offer and admonished him not to meet further with Chinese agents.
Hansen in 2013 also had offered to act as a double agent for the DIA.
The FBI kept tabs on Hansen by phone taps, searches of his hotel rooms, and other means.
The FBI arrested Hansen after he met in Seattle with a DIA officer whom agents said Hansen approached in 2016 in an effort to recruit the man to provide military secrets.
After one meeting, the officer filed a “suspicious incident report” with his superiors, and the DIA agreed to work with the FBI in its investigation of Hansen. The DIA officer agreed to act as an informant.
In an April 2018 meeting after he returned from a trip to China, Hansen told the officer the Chinese “might pay up to $200,000 if the (informant) could deliver the China ops plan, the operations plan of the U.S. military regarding potential military intervention with China.”
Chinese agents were also interested in U.S. military intelligence involving North Korea and South Korea, according to the indictment.
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 soon after arrested Hansen.
The indictment also said Hansen bought export-controlled electronic encryption software from Maryland and Colorado companies and routed the programs to Chinese agents, obscuring the transactions through a front company.
Hansen had an operating interest in five companies registered in Salt Lake City and used some of them to launder payments from the Chinese via wire transfers and credit card charges, according to the indictment.
Hansen had returned from China several times with thousands of dollars in cash but quit doing so after U.S. customs agents began questioning the source of the cash, the indictment said.
The Utahn faces felony charges of acting as an agent of a foreign government; bulk cash smuggling; structuring illegal monetary transactions, and smuggling goods out of the country.
Christopher Black, an attorney who represented Hansen in court Monday, did not immediately return a phone call.
U.S. prosecutors in Seattle urged a federal judge to deny bail to Hansen, categorizing him as an extreme flight risk.
They said Hansen’s training as an intelligence officer equipped him to avoid capture if he chose to flee. The charges against him could draw a life prison sentence for the spying charge.