SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4utah) – A retired Army intelligence officer charged with spying for China pleaded not guilty in court on Friday, as judge orders restrictions to protect top secret evidence.
According to Melodie Rydalch, Public Information Officer with U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, of Syracuse, appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner and pleaded not guilty to charges related to espionage that were filed in June.
Warner also imposed an order restricting the sharing of the classified documents with anyone outside the case.
Both of the Federal Prosecutors have security clearances however one of the two Federal defense attorneys does not. Rydalch said Federal defenders need them because of the volume of classified information involved in the case.
Hansen was arrested June 2 on charges including the attempted transmission of national defense information to the People’s Republic of China.
FBI agents took Hansen into custody while he was on his way to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle to board a connecting flight to China.
Investigators say Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars while illegally acting as an agent of China.
“His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues. Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
Hansen had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. He faces a 15-count complaint including attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government. The complaint also charges Hansen with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, bulk cash smuggling, structuring monetary transactions, and smuggling goods from the United States.
According to Department of Justice officials, Hansen 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. Hansen held a Top-Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor.
Court documents state between 2013 and 2017, Hansen regularly traveled between the United States and China, attending military and intelligence conferences in the U.S. and provided the information he learned at the conferences to contacts in China associated with the People’s Republic of China’s intelligence service (PRCIS).
Charge documents indicate Hansen received payments for this information by a variety of methods, including cash, wires and credit card transactions. He also improperly sold export-controlled technology to individuals in China. From May 2013 to the date of the complaint, Hansen received no less than $800,000 in funds originating from China.
In addition, Hansen repeatedly attempted to regain access to classified information after he stopped working on behalf of the U.S. Government. Eventually Hansen tried to solicit classified information from a law enforcement source and that tipped off authorities. Hansen allegedly told the source about his ongoing contact with the PRCIS. Hansen told the source the types of information his contacts in China were interested in and discussed working with the source to provide such information. Hansen suggested he and the source would be “handsomely paid.”
If convicted of the the charges, Hansen faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.