Undercover video taken by FBI agents shows the sexy redhead’s low-key life in New York before her bust, deportation, and stardom.
The files of operation “Ghost Stories”, which was the FBI’s investigation of Russian sleeper agents, includes surveillance tapes, photos and hundreds of pages of documents.
The papers were released after more than a decade of investigations into the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.
The Files revealed the US swapped the 10 deep cover agents for four Russians imprisoned for spying for the West at a remote corner of a Vienna airport on July 9.
The swap was Washington’s idea, raised when US law enforcement officials told President Barack Obama it was time to start planning the arrests.
Agents launched a series of raids across the northeast after a decade of intensive surveillance of the ring, which officials say never managed to steal any secrets.
A package left by Christopher Metsos is unveiled at a drop site, wrapped in duck tape until it’s retrieved
The case was brought to a swift conclusion before it could complicate the president’s campaign to ‘reset’ US relations with Russia, strained by years of tensions over US foreign policy and the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.
All 10 of the captured spies were charged with failing to register as foreign agents.
An 11th defendant, Christopher Metsos, who claimed to be a Canadian citizen and delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents, vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the FBI decided to arrest the illegals because one of the spies was preparing to leave the US and there was concern that “we would not be able to get him back.”
The ring failed to gather any intelligence, but Holder said they still posed a potential threat to the US.
Called illegals because they took civilian jobs instead of operating inside Russian embassies and military missions, the spies, including New York real estate agent Anna Chapman, mostly settled into quiet lives in middle-class neighbourhood.
Chapman seen having coffee with an undercover agent before her arrest appears as a person of many in New York City
Chapman’s role in the spy saga turned her into an international celebrity.
While freed Soviet spies typically kept a low profile after their return to Moscow, Chapman became a lingerie model, corporate spokeswoman and television personality.
The code name Ghost Stories appears to refer to the ring’s efforts to blend invisibly into the fabric of American society.
The videos of the Russian agents show the illegals surreptitiously passing information and money to each other. They used spy tools such as invisible ink and as modern as cryptographic software that hides messages in digital images posted online.
Col. Alexander Poteyev, a highly placed US mole in Russian foreign intelligence, was the lynchpin in the syndicate.
He abruptly fled Moscow just days before the FBI rolled up the deep cover operation on June 27, 2010.
Poteyev’s betrayed the group itself by exposing the illegals program. This only emerged last June when a Russian military court convicted him in absentia for high treason and desertion.
Former Soviet intelligence officials now living in the West said the operation was a waste of time.
“In my view this whole operation was a waste of human resources, money and just put Russia in a ridiculous situation,” said Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB major general who spied against the US during the Soviet era, in an interview earlier this year.
Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist who has written extensively about Soviet spying in America, said the illegals were supposed to act as talent spotters and scouts, identifying Americans in positions of power who might be recruited to spill secrets for financial reasons or through blackmail.
Moscow’s ultimate aim, Vassiliev said, was probably to cultivate a source who could provide day-by-day intelligence on what the president’s inner circle was thinking and planning in response to the latest international crisis.
But he said there was no evidence the Kremlin made any progress toward that goal.
“How are you going to recruit someone like that, on what basis? That’s quite a successful person.
“Why should he spy for the Russians? I can’t see any reason.”
The 10 Russian illegals included:
— Chapman, the daughter of a Russian diplomat, who worked as a real estate agent in New York City.
— Vicky Pelaez and Juan Lazaro, of Yonkers, New York. He briefly taught a class on Latin American and Caribbean politics at Baruch College. She wrote pieces highly critical of U.S. policy in Latin America as a columnist for one of the United States’ best-known Spanish-language newspapers, El Diario La Prensa.
— Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills of Arlington, Virginia. He had worked at a telecommunications firm. The couple raised a young son and toddler in their high-rise apartment.
— Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, New Jersey. He mostly stayed home with their two pre-teen children while she worked for a lower Manhattan-based accounting firm that offered tax advice.
— Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He worked in sales for an international management consulting firm and peddled strategic planning software to U.S. corporations. She was a real estate agent.
—Mikhail Semenko of Arlington, Virginia, who spoke Russian, English, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese.