Spy kitbag: everything you need to be a real life James Bond (Telegraph.co.uk):
Intelligence officials have expressed their bemusement at details of the alleged ring following the arrest of eleven alleged secret agents including ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman.
Two of the alleged agents organised a ‘drop’ at a park in Arlington, near Washington, in which one placed $5,000 in cash in an envelope hidden in a folded newspaper and left it for collection by the other. The package was intercepted by the FBI.
Details of their supposed activities, and the ‘tricks’ of their trade, were set out in US Justice Department court papers obtained by the New York Times.
The operations of the group have been described as resembling Enid Blyton’s characters, the Secret Seven, rather than spies from a John Le Carre novel. Frederick Hitz, former inspector general of the CIA, said that the suspected Russian operation was “nutty”.
Chapman was observed going into a Verizon shop in Brooklyn, New York and purchasing a mobile phone, supposedly for short-term use in order to ensure it could not have been bugged. Detectives later discovered she had given shop staff the name Irine Kutsov and used the address 99 Fake Street.
Anna Chapman, accused spy, is Internet sensation (Washington Post):
“Act naturally,” the Russians tell their espionage trainees before dispatching them to America.
Boy, did she.
Anna Chapman cut a wide swath in New York even before her arrest on charges of spying for Mother Russia, judging by the sultry shots and videos suddenly popping up everywhere, starting with her own Facebook page.
Now, thanks to her penchant for seductive poses, she’s an international star. You’d hardly know her real pose, according to U.S. officials, was deadly serious: seducing government officials and businessmen into providing state secrets.
That would be treason for an American, punishable by death. Chapman, a Russian, faces only five years in prison for her espionage-related charges.
Even the lurid New York Post, though, caught the whiff of danger in Chapman’s gambit.
“Spy ring’s ‘femme fatale’” the tabloid’s front page screamed. “Red hot beauty snared in Russian ‘espionage’ shock.”
“The Soho Spy,” ABC News called her. “Stunning Anna Chapman Accused in Russia Spy Ring.”
Russian ‘spy ring’ labelled nutty and feckless by former CIA agents (Telegraph.co.uk):
Frederick Hitz, former inspector general of the CIA, said that the suspected Russian operation was “nutty”.
“It just struck me as a throwback to the Cold War at a time when the Russians and the United States have so many forward-looking kinds of issues,” he told the Washington Post.
“It looks as if it got going at the end of the Soviet era and just continued, even though it wasn’t clear what the immediate goals of these people were.”
Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official, branded the operation “feckless”.
“So many of the things they seemed to be after you can find out by listening to the right radio station or reading the right newspaper… It doesn’t say a lot about the smarts of the SVR [Russia’s foreign intelligence service].”