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Updated: July 2, 2010 23:12 IST

"Alleged spy was secretive"

Hasan Suroor
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An undated image taken from a social networking website shows a woman journalists have identified as Anna Chapman. Photo: AP
AP An undated image taken from a social networking website shows a woman journalists have identified as Anna Chapman. Photo: AP

MI5 was on Friday investigating whether Anna Chapman, the alleged Russian spy held in America, was recruited in Britain after a British student, Alex Chapman, claimed she was his former wife and that her father Vasily Kushchenko had been a “high-up” in the KGB .

Ms. Chapman, who had a British passport, held a number of low-key jobs in London including at Barclays bank.

Mr. Chapman (30), a trainee psychiatrist, said in a series of media stories he met Anna Kushchenko at a party in London in 2002 and they married in Moscow five months later. But four years later they divorced after she became “increasingly distant” and “secretive” and gradually drifted away.

However, she retained his surname and the two remained in touch, he said.

“Towards the end of our marriage, she became very secretive, going for meetings on her own with ‘Russian friends', and I guess it might have been because she was in contact with the Russian government,” Mr. Chapman told The Daily Telegraph.

He said he was contacted by MI5 after her arrest and told not to speak to the media. But The Times reported that he tried to “sell” his story to it saying he needed money to fund his studies. By the end of the day, he had hired Britain's most sought-after publicist Max Clifford to handle his media dealings.

In his Telegraph interview, Mr. Chapman, who lives with his parents, often contradicted himself saying at one point that he was “not surprised” at the turn of events and then saying it was “just totally weird to think that my ex-wife could be involved in something like this”. He said she used to loathe America and he was surprised when she told him she had moved to America and was loving it.

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