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Ex-FBI Agent O’Neill Talks About Helping Bust FBI Agent Robert Hanssen

FBI Spy Robert Hanssen

FBI Spy Robert Hanssen

Many years have passed since FBI agent Robert Hanssen was busted for being a spy.  But the story is still worth retelling and retelling. That’s what  ex-FBI agent Eric O’Neill, who is now in the private sector,  did the other night.

By Dinara Aprymova
The Tennessee Journalist
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Former FBI operative Eric O’Neill shared his experience in catching the most notorious spy in U.S. history Tuesday night at the UC auditorium. O’Neill’s story was depicted in the Universal feature film Breach, starring Ryan Phillippe.

O’Neill graduated from Auburn University in 1995. He then moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant. He realized the consultant position was not where he wanted to be, so he began applying for work with governmental agencies.

O’Neill joined the FBI after going through a long process to determine if he represented upstanding citizenry. As an undercover surveillance specialist, O’Neill was trained to watch, photograph and follow people on the streets of Washington, D.C.

“In 2001, I am called off the street to discuss a case that my superiors thought I’d be just right for,” O’Neill said.

His new assignment was to investigate special agent Robert Hanssen. O’Neill was chosen for this mission because he was a Catholic and a male.

Since the FBI suspected Hanssen of espionage, they built an office for him, gave him an important job and enticed him not to retire.

On the first day of work, Hanssen introduced O’Neill to “Hanssen’s Law”. This “law” stated that “the spy is always where he has access to the information that he knows he can use to do the most damage and get the most money. And he knows how to use it and get away with it.”

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