Anna Chapman Spy Charges No Surprise to Ex-Husband

Former Russian spy Anna Chapman is seen here in this undated personal photo.
Personal Photo
Anna Chapman, standing in front of the U.K. parliament in London.
Personal Photo
The British ex-husband of Anna Chapman, the 28-year-old redhead accused of spying on the U.S. for Russia, says her arrest "didn't come as much of a surprise."

Alex Chapman, who lives on the southern English coast and is training to become a psychologist, tells The Telegraph he was visited Wednesday morning by Britain's MI5 spy agency, following his ex-wife's arrest by FBI agents in New York.

"The officer told me she would need everything and I told her what I knew," he told the British newspaper. "It's just totally weird to think that my ex-wife could be involved in something like this."

But not that weird, from Chapman's perspective, given what he described as Anna's "secretive" behavior near the end of their four year marriage, which began in 2002.

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The couple met at a nightclub in London and were married in Anna's native Russia just five months later. It was their honeymoon in Zimbabwe when Alex first met Anna's father, the "scary" Vasily Kushchenko, working then as Russian diplomat in the African nation.

Chapman tells The Telegraph that Anna once described her father as former senior-level KBG agent, in "old Russia".

"He didn't trust anyone. He asked me why I had chosen a Russian bride and asked what business I had in Russia, and I said none," Chapman told the newspaper in an exclusive interview.

"He was scary. He would never introduce me to other Russian people who came to the house and he always seemed to have a lot more security than the other diplomats. He had a Land Rover with blacked out windows and there was always one car in front of it and one car behind."

MI5 is now looking into the possibility that Kushchenko groomed his daughter into the family business during her time in London. She spent time working for a major international bank and a hedge fund -- where she could have had access to personal details of some of Britain's wealthiest individuals.

"Her father controlled everything in her life," Chapman told The Telegraph. "I felt she would have done anything for her dad."

"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," the English man speculated.

The allegations against Ms. Chapman, and the possible family link to the world of spying, also come as little surprise to Harry Ferguson, a former agent with MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency.

Such work "tends to run in the family," Ferguson said on the BBC Friday morning. "It's not at all unusual."

Former CIA chief spokesman Bill Harlow, who currently runs crisis communications and training company "15-Seconds," tells CBS' "The Early Show" that the case of the 10 suspects arrested in the U.S. fits Russia's longtime habit of embedding "illegals" -- non-diplomatic spys -- into American society in hopes of long-term intelligence gathering.

"The Russians are still hot on gathering new information on the United States," says Harlow, adding that the nation has historically been "very patient" in its espionage.

Chapman has thus far only given his story to The Telegraph, but high-powered publicist to the stars Max Clifford appeared on the BBC Friday morning, apparently representing the aspiring psychologist and announcing a meeting with him later in the day.

Anna Chapman is currently jailed in the U.S., having been denied bail by a judge in New York. Her nine fellow suspects in the case faced hearings Friday, but only one of them was granted bail.

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Police on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus are searching for an 11th suspect, alleged spy-ring moneyman Richard Christopher Metsos, who disappeared from the island after posting his own $33,000 cash bail.

The accused spies were directed to mingle with policy makers and think tank experts in the U.S., reports CBS News justice correspondent Bob Orr.

Ferguson told the BBC that if evidence suggests the spy suspects managed to gain access to any sensitive U.S. institutions or individuals, it could lead to charges as serious as treason, and possible life sentences.

The former MI6 agent added that it was entirely possible the FBI had "left one or two out there" in its roundup of the suspects on U.S. soil, given the measures Russia takes to compartmentalize its secret agents.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.