Cloak & Dagger
Is This American Spy Dead? Or Was He Ever Real?
Russian media trumpeted the death of Aleksandr Poteyev, the spy found guilty for being an American mole. But it’s unclear he’s dead, or that he was even a mole in the first place.
Images of J. Edgar Hoover and encased spy paraphernalia are scattered throughout. At centre stage, when you walk in, is a scale-model replica of the JFK hangar where the 1978 Lufthansa heist—the one Martin Scorsese dramatized in GoodFellas—took place. Off to the left is a roped-off and perfectly in-tact commercial airliner wheel, which was recovered from wreckage of the former World Trade Center. As you move along the far-left wall of the room, you notice that there hangs an object somewhat out of place in such recognizable memorabilia of criminal notoriety. The designer handbag, the casual visitor to the G-men’s shrine is reliably informed in a written plaque and accompanying photograph of its former red-head owner trotting along the streets of Manhattan with it slung over her shoulder, once belonged to Anna Chapman.
The most famous of the Russian “illegals,” or undeclared agents of a foreign government, busted by the FBI in 2010 as part of a long-running, 10-person ring operating in the United States under the supervision of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, Chapman has since become a different kind of fashion icon in her native Moscow, a sex kittenish runway model and advert pinup celebrated for her Bond girl activities in the world’s financial capital. She was also arguably the least dangerous spy of a network collared in June 2010 and subsequently traded for three agents who’d been working for either the CIA or MI6, plus one Russian nuclear specialist who, while not privy to classified intelligence, had nonetheless been imprisoned in Russia for 11 years on espionage charges.
“Cynthia Murphy,” or Lidiya Guryeva, of Montclair, New Jersey, for instance, worked at a lower Manhattan-based accounting firm, not far from the FBI field office, that offered tax services and had a venture capitalist client with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. “Donald Heathfield,” or Andrei Berzukov, sold strategic planning software to U.S. corporations, putting him in a position to conduct industrial espionage. (The family life of Heathfield and his spy-wife “Tracey Foley,” or Yelena Vavilova, which allegedly included a plan to recruit their Canadian-born sons to work for the SVR, inspired the hit Reagan-era Cold War series The Americans.)