Russian bank explains hiring of spy Anna Chapman

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian spy Anna Chapman has become the new celebrity face of a Moscow bank.

FondServisBank, which works with Russian companies in the aerospace industry, said Monday that it has hired Chapman to bring innovation to its information technologies.

It did not escape Russians’ attention that the initials of the bank, FSB, are the same as Russia’s main spy agency.

While it was not immediately clear if the bank was genuinely interested in her IT knowledge or was just using her for her fame, Chapman’s job description was sure to amuse the FBI agents who arrested her in New York after cracking her Internet code.

The bank issued the statement to explain Chapman’s sudden appearance last week at the remote Baikonur cosmodrome for the launch of Russian rocket carrying a Russian-American crew into space.

An official with Russia’s space agency, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Chapman was at Baikonur as an adviser to the president of FondServisBank, but until Monday there had been no confirmation from the bank.

With her flaming red hair and penchant for posting sultry photos of herself on social networking sites, the 28-year-old Chapman was the pinup girl for the 10 sleeper spies who were arrested in the United States this summer and then sent back to Russia in a spy swap.

She has avoided the media since her return, so when she showed up at the launch site late Thursday it caused a sensation. She was wearing a bright red pea coat, which proved less than ideal attire for slipping through the crowd unnoticed.

Chapman refused to answer any questions before being hustled away by a burly man, but a photograph of her in her scarlet coat made the national television news and the front page of Russia’s best-selling newspaper.

While working as a spy in the United States, Chapman used her computer to communicate with a Russian official, the FBI said.

She would set up her laptop in a coffee shop in Manhattan and a little while later a minivan the FBI knew was used by the Russian official would drive by. The FBI said Chapman’s computer would link wirelessly to a laptop in the minivan, using a built-in Wi-Fi chip. In the short time that the computers were close, they could transfer encrypted files between each other.

The FBI figured this out with commercial Wi-Fi analysis software.

The Russian bank said it hoped it would be a “reliable partner” for Chapman in helping her realize her own projects, which include a book she is writing on the new possibilities offered by the Internet.

As for the FondServisBank, it has “acquired an exceptionally creative and what is of equal importance multifaceted employee who is truly concerned about the fate of Russia.”