UK revokes passport and citizenship of woman at center of US-Russia spy swap case

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

UK: Anna Chapman’s citizenship, passport revoked

LONDON — A redheaded sleeper agent who became the most high-profile figure in the U.S.-Russia spy case has had her British citizenship revoked, the government announced Tuesday.

Anna Chapman, 28, was among 10 suspects who pleaded guilty in New York last week to a charge of procuring information for a foreign government. The undercover agents were sent to Russia from the United States on Friday in a swap for four Russians accused of spying for the West.

Chapman, whose sultry photos gleaned from Facebook and other social-networking sites made her a tabloid sensation, previously lived in Britain and held both a U.K. passport and British citizenship following a 2002 marriage to a British man, Alex Chapman.

The couple divorced in 2006, and Chapman — a Russian also known as Anya Kushchenko — later moved to New York, where she appeared to work in real estate. Her page on online networking site LinkedIn listed her as the chief executive officer of PropertyFinder Ltd., which maintained a website featuring real estate listings in Moscow, Spain, Bulgaria and other countries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz said that behind the facade she was a “sophisticated agent of Russia.”

Chapman’s American lawyer had said she hoped to return to Britain. But the Home Office said Tuesday that Chapman’s citizenship and passport have been revoked.

She is likely also to be formally excluded from Britain, so she cannot travel to the country at all.

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