According to a recent announcement from the Justice Department, a former officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has pleaded guilty to attempted espionage in connection with his attempted transmission of national defense information to China.
Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, a resident of Syracuse, Utah, retired from the U.S. Army as a Warrant Officer with a background in signals intelligence and human intelligence. He speaks fluent Mandarin-Chinese and Russian.
DIA hired Hansen as a civilian intelligence case officer in 2006. He held a Top Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor.
As Hansen admitted in the plea agreement, in early 2014, agents of a Chinese intelligence service targeted him for recruitment, and he began meeting with them regularly in China.
During those meetings, the Chinese agents described to Hansen the type of information that would interest the Chinese intelligence service. During the course of his relationship with the agents of the Chinese intelligence service, Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for information he provided them, including information he gathered at various industry conferences.
Between May 24, 2016 and June 2, 2018, Hansen solicited from an intelligence case officer working for the DIA national defense information that he knew the Chinese intelligence service would find valuable, and he agreed to act as a conduit to sell that information to the Chinese.
Hansen advised the DIA case officer how to record and transmit classified information without detection, and explained how to hide and launder any funds received as payment for classified information. The DIA case officer reported Hansen’s conduct to the DIA and subsequently acted as a confidential human source for the FBI.
As Hansen further admitted in the plea agreement, he met with the DIA case officer on June 2, 2018, and received from that individual documents containing national defense information that Hansen previously solicited.
Hansen reviewed the documents, queried the DIA case officer about their contents, and took written notes about the materials relating to the national defense information. He advised the DIA case officer that he would remember most of the details about the documents he received that day and would conceal some notes about the material in the text of an electronic document that Hansen would prepare at the airport before leaving for China.
Hansen intended to provide the information he received to the agents of the Chinese intelligence service with whom he had been meeting, and Hansen knew that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.
Hansen pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government. The plea agreement calls for an agreed-upon sentence of 15 years. Sentencing is set for Sept. 24, 2019.