Thursday, July 8, 2010

Deep Cover

What a crazy story!:

“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.”

Stunning indeed. The San Francisco Chronicle's Web site ran a headline a carny barker would approve of: “Check Out Alleged Russian Spy Anna Chapman's Facebook Glamor Shots.”

Of course, she was already on You Tube. A dozen videos appeared seemingly out of nowhere, some of them short and shaky jobs apparently shot by anonymous “friends.”

But in another, professional video, whose origin is still unclear, Chapman gives an interview in Russian to an unidentified journalist. In it, she talks about how much easier it is to make business connections in New York than Moscow.

“It’s very easy here,” she says.

Her profile on LinkedIn, the social and business networking site, was less lurid but no less seductive.

She lists herself as the chief executive officer of PropertyFinder Ltd., a Manhattan real estate firm.

“Love launching innovative high-tech start-ups and building passionate teams to bring value into market!” she writes, under a professional-looking photo only slightly less lurid than the New York Post’s.

As the Chronicle urged, people were no doubt checking out Chapman's photos in droves -- the clicks for the New York Post’s alone were mounting hourly by the hundreds.

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