Anna Chapman, the sultry Russian spy arrested in New York in 2010, has remade herself into a TV personality and national celebrity back home, but the shroud of secrecy that once enveloped her daily existence now appears to cover just one thing: her personal life.
When asked about her recent tweet proposing marriage to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, she ended an interview with NBC's Richard Engel.
"I'm not going to discuss this," Chapman said of her proposal to Snowden, who has been charged with espionage by the U.S. government. Moments later, she abruptly ended the conversation altogether.
"OK, the interview is finished. I'm sorry," she said.
The decision to remain private on any topic seems incongruous with her behavior in the months following her discovery and deportation, when Chapman, now 31, posed for racy photos and walked the catwalks in Moscow.
Her profile has only risen since. Chapman's TV program, a pseudo-scientific show about aliens and ghosts called “Mysteries of the World,” airs on Russian television. To promote it, Chapman, who was arrested along with nine others on June 27, 2010, on suspicion of working for a Russian-sponsored spy ring, agreed to sit down for a rare interview with NBC News.
"You lived a very mysterious life," Engel asked. "One you still don't like talking about. And now you're on television... Does that seem strange to you?"
Russian ex-spy Anna Chapman, center, walks a catwalk flanked by two men posing as secret service agents at a fashion show in Antalya, Turkey, in June 2012.
"I'm a very private, discreet person and I still don't do many interviews because I just don't like to share," she answered. "I don't believe that people would be interested in knowing about somebody's life."
"Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a social life?" Engel asked
"I'm not married -- if I was married, everybody would know," Chapman said, alluding to her fame.
Things turned sour just a few questions into the interview, after Chapman was asked about the July 3 tweet. After refusing to comment on Snowden -- who lived at the Moscow airport for more than five weeks before Russia granted him a year's asylum on Aug. 1 -- she declined to answer other questions.
"I don't want to discuss America. I'm sorry," she said. "I think (the interview is) done because it's not going the right way."
First published September 30 2013, 1:33 AM