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In Britain, accused Russian spy's ex-husband speaks up

Alex Chapman says he doesn't know whether his ex-wife, Anna, might have been recruited while the couple lived together in London from 2002 to 2006. But he says her arrest did not surprise him.

July 02, 2010|By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from London — It was the only choice of headline, really: "The spy who loved me."

The country that gave the world James Bond is now abuzz about a bewildered trainee psychologist who was apparently once married to the femme fatale of an alleged Russian spy ring.

The Daily Telegraph devoted most of its front page to a photo and exclusive interview with Alex Chapman about his relationship with Anna Chapman, 28, whose sexy photos made her the star defendant of the 10 people arrested on suspicion of being undercover agents.

A resident of southern England, Alex Chapman told the newspaper that intelligence officials came knocking on his door Wednesday to find out more about whether his Russian ex-wife might have been recruited as a spy while they lived together in London from 2002 to 2006.

Chapman, 30, said he didn't know. But he added that the arrest of his former wife "didn't come as much of a surprise."

"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," Chapman said.

He added that his former wife once revealed to him that her father, a Russian diplomat who went around with a security detail, had been a senior KGB agent and that "she would do anything for her dad."

In his interview with the Telegraph, he said he met Anna Kushchenko at an underground rave party in London in 2001, when she was on vacation from studying economics at Moscow University.

"I plucked up some courage and went over to her and said, 'I'm sorry, but you're the most gorgeous girl I've ever seen,' " Chapman recalled. "People go on about love at first sight, and until then I had thought it was a load of rubbish, but as soon as I saw Anna, I knew I had to be with her."

The couple married in Moscow five months later, in early 2002, and then moved to London.

But Anna grew distant, he said, obsessing over money and hanging out with high-fliers, many of them Russians, whom she did not want her husband to meet. In 2006, they divorced. They remained in touch, most recently a few weeks ago, he said.

Then Chapman learned of her arrest. "When I told my mother, she said, 'I knew it!' "

henry.chu@latimes.com

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