x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ex-husband of alleged spy: Her dad was KGB

The ex-husband of one of 10 alleged members of a Russian spy ring arrested in the US says her father was a high-ranking KGB officer.

LONDON // The ex-husband of a suspected Russian spy says her father was a high-ranking KGB officer and says he was not shocked to learn about his former wife's secret life, a British newspaper reported today. Alex Chapman told London's Daily Telegraph when he saw that ex-wife Anna Chapman had been arrested over allegations of spying "it didn't come as much of a surprise, to be honest."

"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," he was quoted as saying in today's article. Alex Chapman, 30, said he'd been interviewed by MI5, Britain's domestic spy agency, earlier this week. "The officer told me she would need everything and I told her what I knew," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The couple were married in Russia in 2002, divorced in 2006. Anna Chapman, one of 10 alleged members of a Russian spy ring arrested in the United States, has been denied bail. An 11th alleged member of the spy ring jumped bail in Cyprus, and police there are hunting for him. Alex Chapman said his ex-wife - whose maiden name was Anna Kushchenko - told him her father had been "an agent in 'old Russia"' who had been "high up in the ranks of the KGB."

In addition to the US investigation, British officials are also investigating Anna Chapman, whose professional networking site LinkedIn said the 28-year-old worked in London for at least four years - although the exact circumstances are not entirely clear. She listed a series of high-profile jobs on her online profile, including a stint with private aviation company NetJets Europe, the British bank Barclays and a London-based hedge fund.

Britain's foreign secretary William Hague said the UK was also investigating the allegation that another member of the spy circle, suspect Tracey Lee Ann Foley, used a forged British passport. "We're aware of course that the indictment in one case alleges the fraudulent use of a British passport," Mr Hague said. "Of course we are concerned about that, we're discussing that with the United States."

Domestic spy agency MI5, in charge of counter-espionage in Britain, is investigating the extent to which the pair had links to London, their contacts in the UK, and will likely seek to find out whether either attempted to recruit British officials as informants. Government officials would not comment on the investigation, but acknowledged that intelligence and law enforcement officers would be attempting to verify details of Ms Chapman's time in London, including her contacts in the business community and her frequent appearances at glitzy nightclubs.

Mr Hague declined to say whether intelligence agencies believe Ms Chapman may have spied on Britain, as well as the United States. "I'll have to comment on that at a later stage," he said yesterday. * AP