The FBI has released surveillance footage of Anna Chapman (above) and other Russian sleeper spies secretly exchanging information and money between themselves.
The footage comes from an FBI investigation that lasted close to a decade, and concluded with the biggest spy swap between the United States and Russia since the Cold War.
Anna Chapman’s involvement has turned her into an international celebrity (though Chapman herself still refuses to confirm or deny whether she was a spy), and she is now a television presenter and lingerie model back in Russia.
In the newly released footage, Chapman is filmed meeting a fellow Russian agent in a coffee shop (during this encounter, the FBI alleges she sent coded messages), and also visiting Macy’s in New York City in January 2010.
Other members of the spy ring were filmed burying money in a clump of weeds, handing off documents and cash while passing one another in subway tunnels (a technique known as a ‘brush pass’), or simply taking their kids for a walk.
The FBI believes the spy ring were ‘talent spotters’ – that is, they were under orders to identify high-level individuals who may be interested in sharing information on subjects such as defense and finance. Such targets may have included academics, entrepreneurs and government policymakers.
Reportedly, their mission was close to being a success. FBI assistant director for counterintelligence C. Frank Figliuzzi reveals that “they were getting very close to penetrating U.S. policymaking circles,” through a friend of an unnamed member of President Obama’s Cabinet.
On July 9th 2010, the U.S. swapped the ten deep cover agents arrested by federal agents for four Russians imprisoned for spying for the West. The swap took place at a Vienna airport.
The footage of Chapman and her colleagues is below, and provides a fascinating insight into this shadowy world: