Home Office to stop Russian spy Anna Chapman from returning to UK
The Home Office is looking at ways to stop Anna Chapman, the glamorous Russian spy, returning to Britain.
By Alex Spilius in Washington, Caroline Gammell and Duncan Gardham
Published: 6:01PM BST 09 Jul 2010
(The spy who loved me: the photo album of Alex, ex-husband of su
Anna Chapman, the woman accused of joining a Russian spy cell in the US, was married to her British husband Alex from October 2002 to March 2006. Photo: DAILY TELEGRAPH)
Officials have begun investigating ways to legally bar her after she announced her intention to move back to the country where she lived for seven years.
The 28-year-old said she wanted to resume “her life” after being deported from the US in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War, according to her lawyer.
She was granted a passport a year after getting married to an Englishman in 2003, but could be stripped of her British citizenship by the Home Secretary.
Under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, Theresa May is entitled to confiscate the spy's passport if it is considered “conducive to the public good”.
Chapman may also be banned on the grounds that she secured citizenship by means of “fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact”.
The former property agent, who spent time in both London and Bournemouth, and nine others confessed to being unregistered foreign agents in a New York court late on Thursday night and were deported within hours.
They were flown on an American Boeing 767 to Austria, where they met a Russian jet waiting on the runway to take them home.
In return, the Russian jet was carrying four spies who had been imprisoned for their links with MI6 and the CIA which they were handing over. The meeting on the tarmac of Vienna airport was the biggest exchange of spies for 24 years.
Robert Baum, who represented Chapman in the US, said his client had considered Britain her home.
“When she gets back to Russia she plans to spend time with her family who are extremely happy to see her out and back home,” he said.
“She wants to spend some time in the UK as well as Russia. She has lived in the UK for almost seven years and it is somewhere that in her life she called home and she would like to return.”
As her mother Irina Kushchenko waited for Chapman to arrive back in Russia, she said: “I hope that I will soon be able to see and embrace my daughter.” The nine others on the flight were Tracey Foley, Donald Heathfield, Juan Lazaro, Patricia Mills, Richard and Cynthia Murphy, Vicky Pelaez, Mikhail Semenko and Michael Zottoli.
For 90 minutes yesterday, the American and Russian aircraft remained parked closely side by side as they tried and conceal the transfer.
From Russia, Sergei Skripal, Alexander Zaporozhsky, Igor Sutyagin and Gennady Vasilenko all joined the maroon and white Vision Airlines aircraft which took off shortly before midday.
Skripal, a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence, had been sentenced to 13 years in a high-security prison in August 2006 for spying for British intelligence.
Sutyagin, who was jailed for 15 years for passing classified information about Russia's submarine fleet to a front company for the CIA, was said to have been in contact with a British intelligence officer on Thursday.
Their flight touched down briefly at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire before flying onto the US.
Sources said a small number of CIA officers had flown into Britain to help with the debriefing.
It is likely that CIA and MI6 officers will be given access to each other's agents after their initial debriefing.
As part of the deal, Chapman and her fellow spies are banned from returning to America.
Although the Home Office refused to comment directly on the case, Mrs May is entitled to remove Chapman's British citizenship as long she is not left stateless.
As a Russian citizen without a visa, she could then be detained, deported or excluded from the UK.
She could be informed of the decision at any time by letter while out of the country and would then have the right to appeal to the Special Immigration Appeal Commissioner.
Chapman became a British citizen through her marriage to Alex Chapman, 30, a trainee psychologist, who has been investigated by MI5 but said he was unaware of her secret life.
Mr Baum said that while in the US, Chapman had only communicated once with a Russian official via her laptop.
“She never met personally with any official of the Russian federation, she never passed information, she never received any money,” he told ABC.
“None of the people involved from my understanding provided any information that couldn't be obtained on the internet.” Chapman was the only defendant not to be charged initially with money laundering, though that more serious indictment was dropped as part of the deal with Moscow.
In Russia, the incident is seen as a major embarrassment to the country's SVR foreign intelligence service, the successor to the Soviet KGB.
A spokeswoman for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he had agreed to pardon the four men Russia released after they had signed written confessions admitting to their “earlier crimes.”
Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a terse statement that the Kremlin had agreed to the spy swap on “humanitarian grounds” in the spirit of growing co-operation with the United States.
It hailed the deal as proof that alleged attempts to sabotage relations between Washington and Moscow were doomed to fail.
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