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Entries in Anna Chapman (8)

Tuesday
Apr032012

Russian Fem Spy Spooked US, But It Wasn't Anna Chapman

Secretary Clinton: Spy ring target? State Department photo(WASHINGTON) -- A female Russian agent got "close enough" to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that the FBI felt they had to swoop in and arrest the lot -- but it wasn't the famous femme fatale Anna Chapman, federal officials said Tuesday.

Chapman, the seductive 20-something SoHo spy, was named by a British newspaper Monday as the reason the FBI decided to finally round up the Russian ring, which had long been under surveillance, in 2010. The paper cited an interview conducted by the BBC with the FBI's counter-intelligence head Frank Figliuzzi.

"We were becoming very concerned they were getting close enough to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue," Figliuzzi said.

But Figliuzzi never named the Russian agent in question. And although the BBC ran images of Chapman -- as well as shots of a look-a-like -- during the interview, now the FBI says he wasn't talking about her at all. Instead, officials at the Department of Justice told ABC News Figliuzzi was referring to another of the arrested spies, Cynthia Murphy.

According to court documents relating to the spies' arrest, Murphy had been in contact with a fundraiser and "personal friend" of Hillary Clinton, who took the office of Secretary of State in January 2009. The fundraiser, Alan Patricof, said in a 2010 statement that he had retained Murphy's financial services firm more than two years before, had met with her a few times and spoke with her on the phone frequently. Patricof said they "never" spoke about politics, the government or world affairs.

A spokesperson for Clinton told ABC News in 2010 that at the time there was "no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring."

Court documents had said the FBI had decided to go ahead with the arrests after an FBI agent went undercover and engaged Chapman, who became alarmed. After their arrest, the spooks were sent back to Moscow in exchange for four high-value Americans that had been in Russian custody, U.S. officials said at the time.

Since her return to the homeland, Anna Chapman has found fame as a television host and, more recently, runway fashion model.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

How the FBI Busted Anna Chapman and the Russian Spy Ring

Federal Bureau of Investigation/ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Anna Chapman is a television star and lingerie model back in Moscow now, but before she and other Russian spies were caught by the FBI last year, they came dangerously close to accomplishing a portion of their undercover mission in the United States.

“This group was well on their way to penetrating foreign policy circles.  They had befriended a friend of a sitting Cabinet official,” FBI Counter Intelligence Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi said. “They wanted to get their hands on the most sensitive data they could get their hands on, but we took this thing down before classified information changed hands.”

In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News, Figliuzzi said the red-headed Chapman was much more than a seductive “femme fatale.”

“This is a highly-trained intelligence officer — Chapman is a new breed of illegal operative,” Figliuzzi said, describing her as “tech savvy” and capable of spying in plain sight. Chapman and her comrades were “the cream of the crop, handpicked out of the Russian intelligence academy, because of their fluency in languages, and their ability to acclimate into another society,” he said.

FBI hidden camera surveillance videos of the spies’ operations give a fascinating look into Russian spy tradecraft as employed by Chapman and the other Russian agents.   The videos show, among other things, the Russian infiltrators hiding messages under bridges, secretly trading information, money and contact information via “brush passes,” and digging for buried payoff money in the woods.

The videos were released by the FBI Monday in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by ABC and other news organizations.  While Chapman and her fellow spies seemed to live routine, middle-class lives, the videos reveal both traditional and hi-tech spy techniques, including Chapman sending encrypted messages to her handler with a specially equipped laptop.  In one of the FBI surveillance tapes, Chapman is in a department store, transmitting messages to her contact standing outside the store.

“We were able to capture wirelessly the communications between her and her handler,” Figliuzzi said.  “There were six locations throughout New York” that Chapman used, he said.  “She transmits and receives messages from the official who is in close proximity but not anywhere near visibly close to her...she is transmitting encrypted code that the FBI was able to break.”

Because they broke the code, the FBI was able to place an informant into the spy ring.  At one point, Chapman even hands her laptop over to the informant so he can fix some technical problems she was having.  She didn’t know, of course, she was having trouble with her laptop because of measures taken by the FBI.  The FBI dubbed the operation that caught Chapman and her colleagues “Ghost Stories,” because many of the Russian spies assumed the stolen identities of dead Americans.

“We were dealing with the most sophisticated cadre the Russians could put here,” Figliuzzi said.

All of its members spoke fluent English, many had attended U.S. colleges or graduate schools, and some married each other, had children, and assumed American middle-class lives, all the while searching out top-level contacts in U.S. policy-making.

“What we have learned here is the absolute resolve of a foreign intelligence service to penetrate U.S. foreign policy circles,” Figliuzzi said, adding that the Russians were in it for “the long haul — they were patient enough to wait decades to achieve their objective.”

The Cold War, he added, did not mean the end to the “Spy vs. Spy” mentality between the United States and Russia.

“The public needs to know this threat continues,” Figliuzzi said.  “Spying has been with us since the Old Testament; spying is with us now.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

FBI Russian Spy Videos Released

FBI/ABC(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI video shows Russian spies digging up payoff money in New Jersey, handing off a bag in a New York train station and passing information in furtive meetings and “brush bys.” It’s all part of the surveillance video released Monday of a decade-long FBI undercover operation that brought down flame-haired Anna Chapman and the rest of the Russian spy ring operating in the United States.

The videos were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by ABC News and other news outlets. In conjunction with the release of the videos, the FBI has also released more than 1,000 pages of highly redacted documents from the case that was dubbed Operation Ghost Stories because it was reminiscent of the Cold War’s cloak-and-dagger spy games.

The FBI tracked the spy ring known as the “Illegals” program across the United States with FBI agents and the Justice Department arresting the 10 spies June 27, 2010. The case captured international attention with Russian bombshell Chapman providing an undercurrent of James Bond-ian sex appeal and international intrigue in one of the biggest spy cases since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

Chapman covertly communicated with Russian government officials from the Russian Mission to the United Nations by using private wireless networks sent from her laptop computer.

One of the videos shows Chapman days before she was arrested interacting with an undercover FBI agent who approached her when she was having computer problems. The FBI agent was posing as a Russian consulate employee.

Captured from multiple angles in another video, Chapman appears in the FBI surveillance videos being monitored in an unnamed department store in New York City.

Also released is a video of Russian spy Mikhail Semenko dropping off $5,000 in cash at a park in Arlington, Va. According to court papers in the case prior to the June 26, 2010 video, an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian agent had handed Semenko the cash during a meeting in downtown Washington, D.C.

Besides Chapman and Semenko, the case involved four couples living in the United States under assumed false identities while secretly working as covert Russian spies on long-term, “deep-cover” assignments to try to infiltrate U.S .policy-making circles.

The Russian spies used the fake name of Richard and Cynthia Murphy and lived in Montclair, N.J., Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley lived in Boston, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills lived together in Arlington, Va., and Seattle, and Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez lived in Yonkers, N.Y.

The couples even had children together to add to their cover stories.

Also, Christopher Metsos -- the Russian handler and alleged paymaster at the center of the spy ring who facilitated meetings and cash for the 10 Russian spies -- posed as a Canadian citizen and regularly traveled to U.S. locations to meet with the spies, including numerous meetings in New York City in places such as coffee shops and book stores.

The videos show a brush pass between Metsos and an unidentified Russian government official at the Forest Hills, Queens, train station on the Long Island Rail Road May 16, 2004. Metsos received an orange bag stuffed with cash from the man who the FBI alleged worked at the United Nations Russia Mission.

Metsos drove to Wurtsboro, N.Y., the next day and buried the cash wrapped in duct tape in the ground. The FBI dug up the cash weeks later, photographed the evidence and reburied the package.  Another of the videos shows the same location more than two years later and Russian spies Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills digging up the money left by Metsos.

Metsos remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Russia. After the spies were arrested in the United States, Metsos was detained in Cyprus but mysteriously disappeared and failed to show up at a bail hearing a day later.

The agents operated at the direction of the Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, the successor agency to Soviet Union’s KGB.  

In a 2009 encrypted message deciphered by the FBI, the SVR provided two of the spies, Richard and Cynthia Murphy, with a communication that noted, “You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc – all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US and send intels [intelligence reports] to C [center].”

After the agents were arrested, the spy saga lasted almost two weeks in late June and July 2010 with the United States and Russia exchanging spies on the tarmac of an airport in Vienna, Austria on July 9. The spy swap occurred after the 10 spies admitted in New York federal court that they were Russian agents.  

They were sentenced to 11 days of time served and expelled from the United States under the terms of the spy swap, which released four people who had been convicted of spying for the West.

Another suspected agent, Alexey Karetnikov, was deported from the United States in July 2010. He was arrested June 28, 2010, when the story broke, but was only charged with immigration violations after the FBI could not find solid evidence that he was connected to the spy ring. Karetnikov had been working at Microsoft in Seattle before he was arrested.

Since the spy saga, Chapman has become a celebrity in Russia, posing in Maxim magazine and Russia’s Playboy. She has also taken a role in Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party.

Earlier this year Alexander Poteyev, a former senior Russian intelligence officer, was tried in absentia in Moscow for allegedly exposing the spy ring. Poteyev left Moscow as the arrests were unfolding and is believed to be living in the West.

Although it operated with Cold War stealth and tactics, the spy network never obtained any classified information, FBI officials say.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Russian Spies Say Their Handler Was Double Agent for the US

US State Dept(MOSCOW) -- The Russian spies who were arrested in the U.S. a year ago Monday and then deported have now turned the tables on the double agent who ratted them out to U.S. authorities.

Col. Alexander Poteyev, a former high official in Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, has been found guilty of treason and desertion thanks to testimony by Anna Chapman and the other nine men and women who pled guilty to espionage in the U.S. and were then sent back to Russia in exchange for alleged Western agents in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.

According to Chapman and the other spies, only Poteyev could have provided the information that sparked their mass arrests last June 27. Chapman, who has become famous since her arrest for her sexcapades, photo shoots, and business ventures, told the court that she was apprehended shortly after a U.S. agent contacted her using a code word known only to Poteyev and her personal handler. At the time, Poteyev was deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service's "S" department and ran the sleeper agent ring.

Poteyev was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the Moscow District Military Court in absentia. According to the court's verdict, Poteyev, now 59, fled to the U.S. just before the July 9, 2010, spy swap via Belarus and Germany, leaving his wife behind.

U.S. officials at the CIA and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the court's claims.

According to Russian media reports of the verdict, Poteyev left suddenly, and sent a farewell message to his wife that said he was never coming back. "Mary, try to take it calmly. I'm leaving not for some time, but forever. I didn't want to, but I had to. I will start my life from scratch and will try to help the children," he reportedly said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared on national television shortly after the spy swap to call Poteyev a "pig" who would "regret it a thousand times over."

Russian authorities greeted the Russian spies as heroes when they returned last year, rewarding them with medals. Chapman in particular has been able to parlay her fame into a post-espionage career, becoming an official in Putin's political party, hosting a television show, and walking the runway at a fashion show, among other pursuits. Nude and partially nude photos of Chapman were released to the media by Chapman's British ex-husband after her arrest, and since her return to Russia she has posed in leather and with weapons for men's magazines.

Chapman provided testimony to the court, but did not appear in person.

Poteyev's lawyer plans to appeal the verdict according to a report by Russian state news.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Anna Chapman Won't Admit She Was a Russian Spy

ABC News(MOSCOW) -- In her first foreign language interview since she was arrested as a spy, undercover bombshell Anna Chapman was coy about whether she had ever engaged in espionage for Russia.

"Who told you I was an agent?" Chapman asked an interviewer for the BBC, though she pled guilty to espionage in the U.S. last summer and was sent back to Russia as part of a massive spy swap. "I will never deny and I will never confirm the fact."

Ever since her return to Russia, the flame-haired 28-year-old has turned her notoriety into a lucrative and varied career in her native land. She has already appeared in various men's magazines and accepted a high position in the country's ruling political party, but the BBC interview was timed to promote her latest venture, a regular weekly show on Russian television.

Mysteries of the World With Anna Chapman airs weekly on REN-TV, a private channel. Wearing a little black dress, Chapman was prominently featured in a promotional shot on the station's web site, which also said "I reveal all mysteries, if you have the courage."

Chapman told the BBC she had never considered being on television. "I never saw myself as a TV star," said Chapman. "Most people they dream of being a TV star, like they dream of fame. I never thought of that."

She said, however, that she would never feature her own personal story on Mysteries of the World. Chapman, born Anya Kushchenko, and nine other members of a Russian spy ring were arrested in the U.S. in the summer of 2010. She and her fellow spies all pleaded guilty to espionage in a Manhattan courthouse in July. They were immediately flown to Vienna to be exchanged for accused Western agents held by Russia in the largest U.S.-Russia spy swap since the Cold War.

Chapman has continued to attract attention since her repatriation. She was hired as an advisor to a Russian bank in October. At a ceremony in Moscow in December, Chapman was appointed a leader of the youth branch of Vladimir Putin's political party. Candid nude photos that an ex-boyfriend snapped of Chapman appeared in the January issue of Playboy. Other nude and semi-nude photos of Chapman appeared in the British and U.S. press last summer, and Chapman posed in leather and lingerie for other magazines. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan122011

Anna Chapman Explains The 'Secrets of the World'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOSCOW) -- Sultry spy Anna Chapman, shipped back to Russia as part of a massive spy swap last summer, has turned her notoriety into a lucrative and varied career in her native land. In her newest venture, the flame-haired 28-year old, who has already appeared in various men's magazines and accepted a high position in the country's ruling political party, will host a regular weekly show on Russian television.

Secrets of the World With Anna Chapman will debut on REN-TV, a private channel, on Jan. 21, and air weekly, according to a spokeswoman for the channel. Wearing a little black dress, Chapman is prominently featured in a promotional shot on the station's website, which also says "I reveal all mysteries, if you have the courage." According to the website, the show will be the Friday installment of a series called Reality, which will explore hoaxes, mysteries, and "puzzling phenomena," and be hosted by "the most mysterious woman of our time."

Chapman, born Anya Kushchenko, and nine other members of a Russian spy ring were arrested in the U.S. this summer. She and her fellow spies all pleaded guilty to espionage in a Manhattan courthouse in July. They were immediately flown to Vienna to be exchanged for accused Western agents held by Russia in the largest U.S.-Russia spy swap since the Cold War.

Chapman has continued to attract attention since her repatriation. She was hired as an advisor to a Russian bank in October. At a ceremony in Moscow in December, Chapman was appointed a leader of the youth branch of Vladimir Putin's political party. Candid nude photos that an ex-boyfriend snapped of Chapman appeared in the January issue of Playboy. Other nude and semi-nude photos of Chapman appeared in the British and U.S. press last summer, and Chapman posed in leather and lingerie for other magazines.

Also on Wednesday, Russian media reported that another member of the spy ring had been hired by the government-run pipeline company Transneft as an advisor. A spokesman for Transneft, however, denied that anyone named Natalia Pereverzera was working for the firm. Perverzera lived in the U.S. under the name Patricia Mills before her capture. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec222010

Anna Chapman Nude In Playboy, Nabs Political Post

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOSCOW) -- Nude photos in Playboy are apparently no obstruction to a political career in Russia. At a ceremony in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian spy Anna Chapman was appointed a leader of the youth branch of Vladimir Putin's political party, even though she will appear naked in the men's magazine next month.

Chapman has been named head of a new subdivision within the Young Guard, the youth branch of Putin's United Russia party.

Candid nude photos that an ex-boyfriend snapped of Chapman will appear in the January issue of Playboy as part of an article about Chapman and her father. Other nude and semi-nude photos of Chapman appeared in the British and U.S. press last summer, not long after Chapman and nine other members of a Russian spy ring were exposed in the U.S.

The Young Guard is strongly pro-government, often holding street demonstrations, and was criticized in November after a Russian investigative journalist was badly beaten. Oleg Kashin, who had reported on opposition to a highway planned for a Moscow forest, was attacked on a Moscow street by unidentified assailants. Kashin had been criticized by the Young Guard on its website. The Young Guard had published a picture of Kashin with the label "Will Be Punished," but condemned the attack on Kashin and denied any involvement. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct182010

Anna Chapman, Other Russian Spies Honored By Russian President

Photo Courtesy - ABC News / Handout Photo(MOSCOW) -- Anna Chapman, the sultry undercover agent who pleaded guilty to spying for Mother Russia this summer, has now been honored by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for her espionage.

In a Kremlin ceremony, Medvedev bestowed high honors on Chapman and the nine other members of a Russian sleeper ring who were arrested in June for spying on America. Many of the spies had lived in the United States under false identities for years.

A Kremlin spokeswoman told reporters Monday that "top state awards were presented" to a number of officers in the SVR – Russia's foreign intelligence service – including the "intelligence agents who worked in the United States and returned to Russia in July."

Red-headed bombshell Chapman, 28, appears to have no intention of slipping into the shadows as the other nine spies have done since their arrival in Moscow.

Since returning to Russia, Chapman has appeared in a sexy photo spread in the Russian men's magazine Heat, gone clubbing, attended a rocket launch in Kazakhstan in an attention-grabbing red pea-coat, and become an advisor to a Moscow-based bank.

Chapman, born Anya Kushchenko, and her fellow spies all pleaded guilty to espionage in a Manhattan courthouse in July. They were immediately flown to Vienna to be exchanged for prisoners being held by the Soviets for allegedly spying for the U.S. and Britain in the largest U.S.-Russia spy swap since the Cold War.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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