WASHINGTON (AP) _ The FBI agent accused of spying for Russia carried secret intelligence documents regularly between the State Department and FBI headquarters, department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday.

Responding to inquiries raised by a story in The Washington Post, Boucher said he was not in position to answer any questions about specific activities that may be under investigation in the case.

But, Boucher said of the accused man, Robert Philip Hanssen, ``we described him as a liaison between the State Department's Office of Foreign Missions and the FBI,'' and that ``would involve helping transmit documents, move documents and information back and forth between the two agencies.''

``That's what a liaison does,'' Boucher said.

From 1995 until January, Hanssen was assigned by the FBI to the department's office of foreign missions, which monitors foreign diplomats.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., on Wednesday said the case was ``very, very grave.''

An assessment will show ``a lot of damage'' by the accused 25-year FBI counterintelligence agent, Shelby said.

``There probably will be other spies. Don't be surprised,'' Shelby said after a three-hour closed session with FBI Director Louis Freeh, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.