New York A lawyer for a Russian diplomat’s daughter accused of being a spy said Friday that her 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.
Attorney Robert Baum said he may use that information to appeal a magistrate judge’s decision to deny bail for his client, Anna Chapman, a striking redhead who was branded a femme fatale in media reports and whose photos were splashed across tabloids’ front pages.
Baum said Chapman, 28, 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 in an interview with The Associated Press. “Her father said, ‘You’ve got this passport. It’s forged. Go turn it into the police,’ and that’s exactly what she did.”
Chapman was the first of 10 spy suspects arrested over the weekend in the United States to be denied bail. She is charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, which carries a potential penalty of five years in prison.
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.
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.