Despite widely circulated news story, the Russian beauty is not the spy who was closing in on Barack Obama's inner circle
, the famously sultry Russian operative who was arrested in the US with nine others for espionage
in 2010, was apparently "close to seducing a sitting member of President Barack Obama's cabinet."
The reports were based on an interview that Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI's assistant director of counterintelligence, gave to the BBC in which he called the confessed spy a "honeytrap", adding: "She got close enough to disturb us."
The story went viral. There's only one problem with it, though: it's not true in the slightest.
"It's a completely bogus story," a defense department spokesman told the Guardian. "They made a giant leap."
Figliuzzi never mentions Chapman, 30, by name in the BBC video. And while he did say that one of the 10 operatives had gotten "close enough to a sitting US cabinet member" to "disturb" the agency, he wasn't talking about Chapman. Nor was he talking about seduction.
The New York Daily News picked up the story
under the drooling headline: "Sexy Russian spygal Anna Chapman got too close to President Obama's inner circle, FBI official tells BBC."
Their article, which ran Wednesday, is maddeningly confusing.
In the fourth paragraph, the Daily News reports:
A high-ranking FBI official says Anna Chapman was busted in 2010 spy ring because flame-haired sexpot got too close to sitting President Obama cabinet member.
But the sixth paragraph directly contradicts this:
Flame-haired sexpot Anna Chapman was quickly fingered as the tight-bodied temptress by the British press — but the needle slowly moved in the direction of dowdy New Jersey housewife Cynthia Murphy, who was also taken down in the spy sting.
It's not until the twelfth paragraph that the paper admits:
Figliuzzi refused to reveal the cabinet member — or the female spy.
But the "honey trap" may have actually been G-man speak for cold, hard cash — and the access it can gain with powerful people.
So why headline it otherwise?
It was ABC News that actually bothered to pick up a phone to call the FBI.The network reports
that the spy Figliuzzi was referring to is, in fact, Cynthia Murphy. And by "getting too close" to an Obama cabinet member, he meant as a financial advisor to a Hillary Clinton fundraiser.
The FBI, for its part, released a statement denying that Chapman attempted to seduce a cabinet member.
Mr Figliuzzi's comments to BBC were consistent with and confined to the information outlined in the criminal complaint that was filed nearly two years ago. There is no allegation or suggestion in the complaint that Anna Chapman or anyone else associated with this investigation attempted to seduce a US cabinet official
Chapman, of course, is a red-headed beauty who has since modeled in lingerie for Maxim
and hosted a TV programme in Russia
. She was ratings and Internet gold when her story broke in 2010 – a femme fatale in the flesh.
So it's perhaps somewhat understandable that the Telegraph and the Daily News would leap at the opportunity to splash her come-hither photograph on its pages without actually bothering to fact check their stories. Fortunately, we at the Guardian are above such shenanigans.