Friday, July 2, 2010

Anna Chapman's Ex-Husband: Her Dad Was a KGB Agent

Updated: 41 minutes ago
Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer Contributor

(July 2) -- For flame-haired Russian spy suspect Anna Chapman, espionage may run in the family.

The father of the 28-year-old divorcee, whose sultry Facebook self-portraits have made her the glamorous public face of an alleged deep-cover spy ring embedded in the U.S., was reportedly a KGB agent under the Soviet Union.

That's according to her ex-husband, a Brit, who also has been quoted as saying Chapman suffered a mid-life crisis in her 20s, developing an obsession with money and mysterious Russian friends that ultimately led to the breakup of her marriage.

Chapman was arrested in New York last weekend, charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government. She was denied bail at a hearing Monday where prosecutors called her a highly trained "Russian agent" and "practiced deceiver."
Anna Chapman
Anna Chapman is one of 11 suspects accused of being part of a Russian spy ring in the U.S.

Even the U.S. Marines are gazing at Chapman's coy photos, but what's surprising is that they're doing it as part of their training. The Washington Post reports U.S. security officers are showing Chapman's mug to Marines as part of a cautionary tale about beautiful women who might be spies.

"Her pictures are now part of our [counterintelligence] awareness briefs," an unidentified security officer told the Post. "So that when we tell the youngsters to beware of the beauties in foreign countries, we're not just blowing smoke."

Chapman's British ex-husband, Alex, tells London's Daily Telegraph that his wife's personality changed overnight after she began having "secretive" meetings with Russian friends, and became obsessed with money and moving to America.

"There was such a dramatic change in the way she thought and the way she went about things, I felt I hardly knew her any more," said Chapman, who married his wife five months after meeting her at a London nightclub. "It was like someone having a midlife crisis, but in their 20s." He also said he told all this to British intelligence agents who visited him Wednesday, seeking information about his ex-wife.

Chapman said his wife, whom he divorced four years ago, confided in him that her father, Vasily Kushchenko, had been a KGB agent. "Her dad was scary. He was very concerned about which direction my life was going, how I was going to 'earn my money.' Anna told me he worked as a diplomat for the Russian government," Chapman was quoted as saying. "It was only much later that she told me he had been a KGB agent."

Top executives and bankers in London, for whom Anna Chapman worked when she lived there, also described how even as a 23-year-old, the Russian beauty managed to penetrate exclusive business circles, rubbing shoulders with clients in the most elite London clubs.

The FBI alleges that Chapman was on a deep-cover spy mission to penetrate U.S. financial and policy-making circles and glean insider information to funnel back to Moscow.

One such executive, Wayne Sharpe, founder of the London trading firm Bartercard, told The Guardian newspaper that Chapman was a regular at the exclusive Annabel's nightclub, and that she was frequently at the side of Nicholas Camilleri, chief executive of a top hedge fund, Navigator Asset Management Advisers.

"The business people [in attendance] were the highest lot. ... She was in that set well," Sharpe said. "It was always hard to determine what she did in [Camilleri's] business, but she was very intelligent, attractive, personable and very articulate in English. She certainly was a great networker," he was quoted as saying. "She constantly ingratiated herself with all of the high-end businessmen."

Camilleri told the newspaper he finds it difficult to picture Chapman as a spy. "She was a green, wet-behind-the-ears type of girl," he said. "She came across as having none of those sorts of spying-type aspirations, so I can't see how she developed them later."

He confirmed that the young Russian had worked for him as a personal assistant. But on Chapman's LinkedIn profile, she claims to have been "Head of IPO" for Camilleri's company, Navigator. She also lists experience as an investment banker with Barclay's Bank in London.

But Business Insider and several other financial news outlets checked those claims with the companies, and found that Chapman worked instead in Barclay's retail sales division, and never as a banker herself.

Filed under: Nation, World, Crime

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