FBI releases Russian spy videos
- 31 October 2011
- From the section US & Canada
The FBI has released video showing Anna Chapman and other members of a Russian spy ring apparently secretly exchanging information and money.
The recordings are among documents released from an FBI surveillance operation called Ghost Stories.
Russian agents spent 10 years in the US, but there is no evidence they obtained any sensitive information.
They were freed in a spy swap at an airport in Vienna, Austria, in July 2010.
One recording shows former real estate agent Chapman shopping at Macy's department store in New York, while transmitting coded messages to a nearby Russian government official over a wireless network, according to the FBI.
The material, released as part of a Freedom of Information request, purports to show another spy, Mikhail Semenko, hiding material at a drop site - underneath a footbridge in a park outside Washington DC.
Another video appears to show Christopher Metsos, believed to be a ringleader in the case, receiving a shopping bag filled with money from a Russian mission official at a train station in Queens, New York.
The FBI believes the agents were "talent spotters" - directed to identify people in high-level positions that would be interested in sharing information.
An FBI spokesman told the Associated Press news agency the decision to release the material from the surveillance operation, named Ghost Stories, on Halloween was coincidental.
One video shows Chapman setting up her laptop computer at a branch of the bookstore Barnes and Noble.
Another shows her meeting an FBI agent posing as a Russian consulate employee at a downtown New York coffee shop in late June 2010.
FBI records show that an hour after the meeting, Chapman bought a new mobile phone under a fake name, then failed to show up to a second meeting.
The US authorities then moved in to break up the spy ring.
Four Russians imprisoned for spying for the West were exchanged for the deep cover agents.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded all 10 with the country's highest honours.
While many of the spies have kept low profiles back in Russia, Chapman has since become a media personality, hosting her own television show, and taking a role with the governing party's youth wing.