|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Robert Lipka's mug shot
|Born||June 16, 1945|
|Died||July 5, 2013
|Other names||KGB code-names: DAN (according to Vasili Mitrokhin), "Rook" (according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation)|
|Occupation||former army clerk assigned to the National Security Agency and spy for the Soviet Union|
|Criminal charge||Conspiracy to commit espionage (Violation of the Espionage Act)|
|Criminal penalty||18 years and a $10,000 fine|
Robert Stephen Lipka (June 16, 1945 – July 5, 2013) was a former army clerk at the National Security Agency (NSA) who, in 1997, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was arrested more than 30 years after his betrayal, as there is no statute of limitations for espionage.
Robert Lipka was assigned to the National Security Agency as an intelligence analyst in 1964, when he was a 19-year-old U.S. Army soldier. He worked in the central communications room from 1964–1967, where he was responsible for removing and disseminating highly classified documents throughout the agency. Despite his junior rank, Lipka held a high security clearance, and had access to a diverse array of highly classified documents.
In September 1965, Lipka presented himself to the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street, as a walk-in or volunteer spy. He announced that he was responsible for shredding highly classified documents, and over the next two years he made contact with the residency around fifty times, using a variety of skilled tradecraft.
According to his handler at the time, former KGB General Oleg Danilovich Kalugin, "the young soldier (Lipka) ... was involved in shredding and destroying NSA documents and could supply us with a wealth of material." He goes on to say that Lipka gave him "whatever he got his hands on, often having little idea what he was turning over." Lipka compromised daily and weekly top-secret reports to the White House, information on US troop movements throughout the world, and communications among NATO allies.
During the two years Lipka supplied the KGB top-secret information, he received payment of about $27,000. Kalugin claims that Lipka used the money he received, around $500 to $1,000 per package he delivered, to finance his college education. However, Lipka regularly complained that he deserved more money, and threatened to break contact if this demand was not met. In August 1967, Lipka made good on his threat, and left the NSA at the end of his military service in order to attend Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
In order to discourage any attempts by the KGB to recontact him, Lipka sent a final message claiming that he had been a double agent for US intelligence all along. According to Vasili Mitrokhin, the KGB knew this was a lie because of the high importance of the classified documents Lipka provided. Both the residency and illegals (non diplomatic cover handlers) tried to renew contact with Lipka intermittently for at least another 11 years, though without success.
Investigation and arrest
Similar to the John Anthony Walker case, Lipka's ex-wife made accusations of his treason to the FBI. In 1993, armed with these accusations, revelations from Kalugin's memoir, and information from a separate investigation implicating Lipka, the FBI decided to use a false flag operation to catch him. FBI agent Dmitri Droujinsky contacted Lipka, posing as a GRU officer based in Washington named "Sergei Nikitin." Lipka told Nikitin that he was still owed money, and over the course of four meetings, "Nikitin" gave Lipka $10,000.
After a lengthy investigation, Lipka admitted to having been a spy while at the NSA, and in February 1996 he was arrested at his home in Millersville, PA, and charged with handing classified documents to the Soviet Union. As there is no statute of limitations in espionage cases, it did not matter that Lipka had ceased spying for the Soviet Union three decades before his arrest.
Lipka was not tried. Although he initially pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of conspiracy to commit espionage, in May 1997 he broke down and confessed. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer Lipka "exploded into tears as he confessed that he had handed over classified information to KGB agents."
Lipka pleaded guilty and was sentenced by United States District Judge Charles Weiner to 18 years imprisonment, and fined $10,000. In addition, he was ordered to repay the $10,000 he had received from "Sergei Nikitin" in the FBI's sting operation. His guilty plea meant that Mitrokhin would not have to testify publicly at a trial.
Prison and death
On July 5, 2013, Robert Lipka died in Meadville, PA at the age of 68. His remains were cremated.
- Mitrokhin Archive
- United States government security breaches
- First Chief Directorate
- National Security Agency
- James Hall III
- Robert Hanssen
- Earl Edwin Pitts
- Harold James Nicholson
- George Trofimoff
- "Robert Stephen Lipka." (Archive, Archive #2) Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on July 5, 2013.
- Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage
- Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield.
- Fen Montaigne and Oleg Kalugin, The First Directorate: My 32 years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West.
- Famous Cases: Robert Lipka, An American Spy
- Ex-G.I. Arrested on Charges of Spying for the Soviet Union
- Wilson Center, Mitrokhin Archive