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Spy suspect wants to stay in U.S., lawyer says

The Russian diplomat's daughter accused of being a spy is "embarrassed" by photos of her that have turned up in media reports and fears she will be deported, her lawyer said.
Anna Chapman
Reputed spy suspect Anna Chapman is "no different than your typical single 28-year-old woman in New York City," her lawyer says.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Russian diplomat's daughter accused of being a spy is "embarrassed" by photos of her that have turned up in media reports and fears she will be deported, her lawyer said.

Attorney Robert Baum told The Associated Press that he showed Anna Chapman, 28, some of the tabloid newspaper stories that have branded the redhead as a femme fatale and feature photographs from her Facebook page, showing the smiling Russian enjoying Manhattan's nightlife scene, posing in front of the Statue of Liberty and mixing with businessmen at a conference.

"She was embarrassed by some of the photos that were obviously taken from her Facebook pages," the lawyer said. "The truth is she probably no different than your typical single 28-year-old woman in New York City. She runs a successful business, goes out at night. She dates men, enjoys a social life."

Chapman is charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, which carries a potential penalty of five years in prison. She was the first of 10 spy suspects arrested over the weekend in the United States to be denied bail.

Baum said Chapman's father told her to go to police with a fake passport an undercover FBI agent had given to her, leading to her arrest and solitary confinement. He said he may use that information to appeal the bail decision.

At a bail hearing Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz said only that investigators on June 27 intercepted phone calls in which Chapman was "talking to a man who is advising her, who is telling her essentially ... to make up a story, to say that she's being intimidated, that this might be some other criminal activity, and who advises her to get out of the country and to go to the police."

Baum said he believed the phone calls cited by prosecutors were conversations between Chapman and her father, whom Baum described as a low-level embassy employee whose family was middle class.

Baum said Chapman told him she reached out to her father, Vasily Kushchenko, a day after an FBI agent posing as a Russian consulate employee asked her to deliver a fraudulent passport to another woman working as a spy.

"She spoke to her father, and her father said, 'Go turn the passport in,'" Baum said. "Her father said, 'You've got this passport. It's forged. Go turn it into the police,' and that's exactly what she did."

Yusill Scribner, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan, declined to comment on Baum's comments.

Baum discounted published reports Friday quoting Chapman's ex-husband as saying her father is a spy.

"I won't go into the circumstances of divorce, but he may be somewhat bitter about it," Baum said.

Baum said he has spent several hours with his client over two nights this week, finding her "very frightened."

He said she was kept isolated in a cell in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He said she is allowed one hour a day of exercise, the only time she is allowed to be with another inmate.

Otherwise, she is given no access to phones, television or newspapers, Baum said.

"I can't tell you why, whether it's because of the nature of the charges or whether she's in some type of protective custody," he said. "In some respects, it's a good thing that she's alone because she's frightened about being with other inmates."

Baum said another defendant, Cynthia Murphy, also is being held in isolation.

Prison spokesman James Davis said he couldn't comment on any inmate's housing out of security concerns.

Baum has argued for a $250,000 bail and said he was confident Chapman could post $25,000 in cash.

"She feels that if bail were granted there is no way in the world she would ever flee the area," he said. "In fact, she's concerned she may get deported. She'd like to live here."

"She's taking the charges very seriously," he added. "The only time I saw less than a serious outlook was when she read some of the things being said about her."

He cited descriptions in the press of her as a "party girl."

"I wouldn't say she laughed," Baum said. "She smiled and rolled her eyes."

Meanwhile, the president of Cyprus said Saturday the island's authorities are not to blame for the disappearance of an 11th spy suspect.

Dimitris Christofias said that 54-year-old Christopher Metsos "appears to have fled" the island, but insisted Cypriot authorities acted appropriately in handling the case. His comments come the day after Cyprus's justice minister said he believes Metsos had fled the country.

Metsos is wanted in the United States on charges that he supplied money to the alleged spy ring. He disappeared on Wednesday, a day after a Cypriot court freed him on bail.

Christofias deflected U.S. Justice Department criticism over Metsos' release, saying U.S. authorities were slow in providing certain documents to Cypriot police.

"Only now are they providing them, only now are they preparing them," Christofias told reporters as he left a Nicosia radio station where he gave an interview.

"I don't think it is appropriate to apportion blame to the Cyprus Republic," he said.

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined comment.