Russia's 'femme fatale'

Cold War-style spy used Facebook.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 30, 2010 17:07
Russian spy Anna Chapman poses in a tiara

princess spy 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Anna Chapman has been called the femme fatale of a spy case with Cold War-style intrigue — a striking redhead and self-styled entrepreneur who dabbled in real estate and mused on her Facebook page, "if you can dream, you can become it."

Chapman's American dream, US authorities say, was a ruse. The 28-year-old Chapman, they say, was a savvy Russian secret agent who worked with a network of other operatives before an FBI undercover agent lured her into an elaborate trap at a coffee shop in lower Manhattan.

RELATED:


Her Internet footprints also include a photo of her posing with a glass of wine between two men at the Global Technology Symposium at Stanford University in March — it cost more than $1,000 to attend — and video clips, speaking in Russian about the economic opportunities in her adopted home.

Media reports quickly branded her a femme fatale, and tabloids splashed her photos on their front pages.

An acquaintance, David Hartman, owner of a New York real estate company, described Chapman as "pleasant, very professional, friendly."

"There's nothing too crazy about her that I knew of," he said.

Caught by an undercover agent

A criminal complaint alleges that, unbeknownst to her business contacts such as Hartman, Chapman was using a specially configured laptop computer to transmit messages to another computer of an unnamed Russian official — a handler who was under surveillance by the FBI.

The laptop exchanges occurred 10 times, always on Wednesdays, until June, when an undercover FBI agent got involved, prosecutors said. The agent, posing as a Russian consulate employee and wearing a wire, arranged a meeting with Chapman at a Manhattan coffee shop, they said.

During the meeting, they initially spoke in Russian but then agreed to switch to English to draw less attention to themselves, the complaint says in recounting their recorded conversation.

"I need more information about you before I can talk."

"OK. My name is Roman. ... I work in the consulate."

The undercover said he knew she was headed to Moscow in two weeks "to talk officially about your work," but before that, "I have a task for you to do tomorrow."

The task: To deliver a fraudulent passport to another woman working as a spy.

"Are you ready for this step?" he asked.

"Of course," she responded.

The undercover gave her a location and told her to hold a magazine a certain way — that way, she would be recognized by a Russian agent, who would in turn confirm her identity by saying to her, "Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?"

But Chapman was leery, prosecutors said.

"You're positive no one is watching?" they say she told the undercover agent after being given the instructions.

Afterward, authorities say, she was concerned enough to buy a cell phone and make a "flurry of calls" to Russia. In one of the intercepted calls, a man advised her she may have been uncovered, should turn in the passport to police and get out of the country.

She was arrested at a New York Police Department precinct after following that advice, authorities said.

Authorities say the undercover's parting words to her had been, "Your colleagues in Moscow, they know you're doing a good job. So keep it up."


Related Content

October 20, 2019
The Jewish arguments at the heart of Trump’s judicial nominee controversy

By RON KAMPEAS/JTA

Cookie Settings